Why Was Emptage A Foster Parent?

, Written by Craig Smullin, Posted: Thu, March 8 2012 at 4:05 PM, Updated: Thu, March 8 2012 at 6:30 PM

NBC-5 News broke the story Wednesday that the man accused of holding a one year old in scalding water causing first and second degree burns has a prior criminal record.
    But how could a man arrested for domestic violence be granted custody of a foster child?
  DHS can't comment on any specific case but they say that a person with a criminal record can become a foster parent, if an exception is made.
    Trevor Emptage, accused of burning his foster child after she defecated in the bathtub, was arrested at his White City home Sunday night.
     Grants Pass Police arrested Emptage for domestic assault in 2008... yet the Department of Human Services deemed him fit to raise the little girl... granting him an exception.
        "Quite a lengthy process of gathering information. Police reports, child welfare history, interviews, legal documentation, and restraining orders."
    Once the research is complete... a criminal record can  be signed off on by DHS staff.
   "The minimum for crimes is usually our Program Manager or District Manager, any crimes above that have to be signed off by central office."
    A huge factor in Emptage's case, he's the little girl's uncle... married to the birth mother's sister... and the birth mother supported the decision to grant Emptage and his wife custody.
    "If we have a family that the mom's saying I want my family placed with this relative, yeah I know they have some history but they're the best person for it, we try to get statements when possible like that."
    The little girl's birth mother told NBC-5 that she knew of Emptage's arrest and signed off on it... allowing DHS to keep the little girl with family.
   "Our branch works so so hard to place children with relatives whenever possible."
   But did DHS err in putting weight into the mother's wishes, when she's been found unfit to act in the interest of her child?
    It's a question DHS could not answer, among many others.
   Emptage is still in the Jackson County Jail charged with assault in the first degree and criminal mistreatment in the first degree.
      Bail is set at more than 1-million dollars.        

About the Author

Craig Smullin

NBC5 News Director Craig Smullin co-anchors NBC5 News at 6 and hosts the 5 on 5 Feature Interview on NBC5 News at 5.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Craig graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California with a degree in Recreation Administration and Sports Management.

Since joining NBC5 News in 2005, Craig has performed virtually every job in the newsroom: News and Sports Reporter, Sports Anchor, Producer, series and segment Host and Anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and NBC5 News at 5. He became News Director in January, 2014.

When he's not managing a busy newsroom, Craig spends time with his wife, two young sons and two dogs. He is a dedicated fan of the San Francisco 49ers and Portland Trailblazers and loves snow boarding the slopes of Mt. Ashland.

Catch Craig co-anchoring with Christine Pitawanich weekdays on NBC 5 News at 6pm.

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