A Falls Church woman has been arrested and charged with obtaining more than $28,000 in public assistance from Arlington County thanks to forged documents, according police.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
FORGERY OF PUBLIC RECORDS & FALSE STATEMENTS AND REPRESENTATIONS,05/01/13, 2100 block of N. Washington Boulevard. Between October 2010 and April 2013, a subject obtained approximately $28,121 of public assistance from Arlington County by forging documents and providing false statements in regards to residency, welfare status and medical diagnosis. April Dugard, 35, of Falls Church, VA was arrested and charged with Forgery of Public Records and Making False Statement and Representations. She was issued an unsecured bond.
“The individual was using forged physicians’ notes to certify a medical condition, and forged school forms,” said Arlington Department of Human Services (DHS) spokesman Kurt Larrick. “The forgeries were were pretty sophisticated.”
“We take fraud seriously, and have effective safeguards to prevent it,” Larrick continued. “When it does occur, we always take appropriate measures, which can include restitution and prosecution.”
Larrick was unable to elaborate on the accusations, explaining that DHS “can’t really say much about a case that is in the legal system.”
The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All suspects are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
Wreath Laying at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — Some 20,000 volunteers placed more than 110,000 wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. It was the 21st annual wreath-laying event at the cemetery, and the largest number of wreaths ever delivered for the event. [Stars and Stripes, Wreaths Across America]
Donations for Secret Santa Due Tomorrow — Those who want to donate gift cards to the Arlington Department of Human Services’ “Secret Santa” program are asked to do so by tomorrow. The program provides a bit of holiday joy to children in foster care, people with disabilities, low income seniors and needy families. [Arlington County]
Garvey Sworn In — Libby Garvey was sworn in for her first full term on the Arlington County Board Friday evening. The event was complete with a reception and a Benjamin Franklin impersonator. County Board member Chris Zimmerman — whose consulting work was publicly scrutinized by Garvey recently — was not in attendance. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Sunday Money
On Saturday, 14 local children will celebrate becoming part of “forever families,” during an Arlington ceremony for National Adoption Day.
Nine families will gather at the Arlington County Courthouse tomorrow (November 17) in recognition of their adoptions being finalized this year. All of the children had previously been in foster care.
There are currently about 100 children in foster homes in Arlington, most of them having been removed from their birth parents due to unfit living conditions. Although the goal is to ultimately reunite the children with their birth families once situations improve, that is not always the best option for the safety of the children involved. The children who will not return to their birth families are then cleared for adoption.
Social workers are involved throughout the process to assess the needs of each individual child and to help find a family that is a good match. Nakejah Allen, who is an adoption social worker in Arlington, said it’s a challenge to find the right fit.
“For the kids that are in foster care, there has often been something that has happened to them,” Allen said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of helping adoptive families to understand the trauma and how that can affect attachment.”
Allen said two other significant challenges include finding homes for children ages 13 and older, and finding parents willing to adopt siblings. Melody Smith and her husband, Christian, adopted a brother and sister who had been in foster care in Arlington, and they’ll be celebrating at tomorrow’s Adoption Day ceremony.
“I’m also from a very large family and the thought of them separating siblings breaks my heart,” Melody said. “We started the process thinking about a single child, but after hearing the stats and information, we felt if we could do that we would go that route.”
The Smiths live in Newport News and were placed with the children via an adoption agency and the help of Arlington’s Department of Human Services. For three months, the couple traveled to Arlington three times a week to meet with the children. The kids finally moved in with the Smiths around Christmas last year, and the adoption became official about a month ago.
“We didn’t even tell them [the kids] the day it became official. My wife came crying to me at work because it became official, but as far as they’re concerned, the day they moved in it was official,” Christian said.
Although Melody and Christian’s children had been removed from their birth parents’ home due to severe neglect, the children’s grandmothers had been loving and nurturing. Melody credits one of the grandmothers with keeping alive their daughter, who was only born with one kidney and it wasn’t fully functioning. The family continues to meet with the grandmothers, as well as the foster family with whom the children had been living prior to the Smiths.
Earlier this month, the 2012 National Conference on Ending Homelessness recognized Arlington County as one of 15 communities nationwide that are “on track” to end homelessness among the medically vulnerable within four years.
The claim is based on a benchmark set by the National Alliance to End Homelessness — cities or counties that moved 2.5 percent of their chronically ill homeless population into permanent housing each month made the list.
Arlington’s “100 Homes” campaign, a partnership with the nonprofit A-SPAN, put about 30 homeless people with life-threatening medical issues into permanent, federally-funded supported housing since starting up last October.
“It does actually cost the community a lot more to leave them homeless,” said A-SPAN Director of Development Jan-Michael Sacharko. “If you can keep people out of the emergency room, out of shelters, out of jails, you save a lot more money.”
The initiative, an outgrowth of the national “100,000 Homes” campaign, was cost-free, Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick said.
And it rallied significant volunteer support. About 180 volunteers went out at 4 a.m. for three days last fall to survey the homeless and check for those with hypothermia, chronic kidney disease, AIDS, HIV or other diseases.
“We’ve always had data on people who were homeless in Arlington,” Larrick said. “This was the most specific.”
Larrick said the survey found 113 “extremely vulnerable” homeless people. The 30 who moved into permanent housing did so with existing county and federal housing programs. Many are clients of A-SPAN, which provides individual case managers to track progress.
As of Arlington’s last count, which came in January, there are 451 homeless people on the streets and in homeless shelters, Larrick said.
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
Today is World AIDS Day, and Arlington County is marking the occasion by offering free HIV testing.
The HIV rapid testing is available from 4:00 to 7:00 this afternoon at 800 S. Walter Reed Drive. No appointment is necessary, but residents can call 703-228-1200 for more information.
More information about the county’s HIV and STD testing services is available here.
Last night the paper published a piece by Local Opinion Editor Barbara Hollingsworth entitled “Federal judge should hear Arlington CPS case.” The article accuses Arlington’s Child Protective Services department of improperly taking away a baby girl from her birth parents and placing her into foster care. According to Hollingsworth’s account, the baby was taken from her parents in 2005 amid unfounded accusations of neglect and starvation.
Citing two different cases of children separated from their parents, Hollingsworth has been making the case that “thieves disguised as Arlington County social workers and judges” have been “tearing families apart” in child abuse and neglect cases.
The Examiner reports that a lawsuit was recently filed in Alexandria federal court on behalf of eight children who have been placed in foster care by Arlington County. According to Hollingsworth:
The list of serious accusations contained in the lawsuit against DJR Judges George Varoutsos and Esther Wiggins, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason McCandless, and various Arlington CPS officials is long: perjury, RICO violations of civil rights, fraud upon the court, obstruction of justice, unconstitutional “ex parte” hearings, court orders that were never served, depriving parents of their due process rights, “missing” court orders, illegal searches and seizures, and felony removal of documents from court files, to name just a few.
Though Arlington County is prohibited from saying much of anything about child welfare cases, Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick said the county is committed to helping children.
“Due to the potential for litigation and our obligation to protect the privacy of children and families within the child welfare system, I am not able to comment on Ms. Hollingsworth’s Nov. 15 opinion piece,” Larrick said in an email. “I can say that Arlington County takes seriously its responsibility to ensure the health, safety and well-being of children, and we are proud to offer a broad range of services and supports that preserve and strengthen families.”
As Hollingsworth wrote to conclude her latest article: “Stay tuned.”
Next week is national Mental Health Awareness Week and Arlington County is using the occasion to emphasize ways residents can help prevent suicide.
From 2005 to 2010 there were 102 suicide deaths in Arlington, according to the county’s Department of Human Services. During those six years, 71 percent of the deaths were among males, and most of those males were in their 30s or 40s.
Arlington’s average yearly suicide rate is 8.21 deaths per 100,000 residents. Though that rate is lower than the comparative national rate of 11.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 people (36,000 deaths in the U.S. per year), Arlington County is reminding residents that they can help prevent a tragedy by recognizing the following early warning signs of suicidal behavior.
- Talk, threats or plans about hurting oneself, death or suicide
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling uncontrolled rage or anger
- Acting recklessly, seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped
- Increasing or excessive alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family, society
- Feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep
- Dramatic mood swings
- Feeling purposeless, with no reasons to live
If someone you know exhibits any of those signs, you’re encouraged to call the Arlington County Mental Health Emergency Service 24-hour hotline at 703-228-5160. If you yourself are having thoughts of suicide, seek help by calling CrisisLink at 703-527-4077 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Interested in leasing space in Ballston Common Mall? Thanks to an item on the upcoming County Board agenda, we now know about how much it costs.
Arlington County leases a 3,119 square foot store, on the second floor near the entrance to Macy’s Furniture Gallery, to house the Woodmont Weavers program. The privately-run but publicly-funded program allows adults with cognitive disabilities to learn how to weave, to sell their creations (placemats, pillows, totes, scarves, hats, etc.) and to earn a wage in the process. The county subleases the space to St. Coletta of Greater Washington, which runs the program on behalf of the Department of Human Services, for a nominal $1 rent.
On Saturday the board is expected to approve a lease and sublease renewal for the mall storefront. According to the staff report, the base rent for the store from Nov. 1, 2011 to Oct. 31, 2012 will be $67,528.80 per year. Add in taxes and utilities, and the expected annual cost rises to $93,911.40.
In addition to the Woodmont Weavers program, the space is also subleased to Ellipse Handmade Crafts, which sells handmade items from local artists and utilizes some of the production space for classes and workshops when not in use by Woodmont. Ellipse pays the county $5,415.00 per year in rent.
We reported last year that the 25-year-old mall is in the early planning stages of a major renovation.
Photo via stcoletta.org
Ever wish you could reenact The Breakfast Club, with you as a friendlier version of Principal Vernon and the club as a group of 15-20 adults with specials needs? If so, this is the volunteer opportunity for you.
The Walter Reed Adult Day Care Center needs a few dedicated, patient and energetic individuals to help start its clients’ day off right one morning per week.
Volunteers will work from 8:00 to 9:45 on Tuesday mornings while the Center has its weekly staff meeting. Volunteers are expected to welcome the clients and serve morning meals.
The Center serves mostly older residents, as well as younger adults with cognitive difficulties. It’s located within the Walter Reed Community Center at 2909 16th Street South.
Anyone interested in volunteering should contact volunteer coordinator Randy Feliciano at rfeliciano [at] arlingtonva.us or (703) 228-0958.
Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter will remain closed tonight despite gusty winds and temperatures dropping into the upper 30s.
Kathy Sibert, executive director of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN), says that illustrates the need for a year-round shelter. A-SPAN has been lobbying the county board for funding for such a shelter.
“Homelessness is not just a winter problem, it’s a problem that exists year-round,” Sibert said.
A-SPAN volunteers will distribute bus tokens to individuals who want to head to shelters in Alexandria, Fairfax County or the District tonight.
Anyone who sees someone experiencing a life-threatening emergency — because of the cold or for any other reason — should call 911, said Kurt Larrick, spokesman for the Arlington County Department of Human Services.