- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - Child welfare officials have barred the CEO of a West Texas nonprofit from having any involvement with the group’s finances or foster children.

James Aldrich has been told he can’t have direct oversight of youngsters, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/1S751DT ).

Aldrich was removed after unannounced visits by Child Protective Services and affiliated agencies to some foster homes associated with Aldrich’s group.

Children’s Hope Residential Services Inc. had $29 million in contracts with Texas as of Dec. 15.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services notified Aldrich that his nonprofit must remove him from its contracts with three foster care campuses in Levelland and Lubbock. Allegations were raised about unspecified contract violations.

“The monitoring visits resulted in a number of serious contract violations as well as ongoing investigations of the (facilities),” the letter states. “These issues directly impact the safety and well-being of children and youth housed at these facilities.”

Aldrich’s exclusion came after the agency Monday removed foster children from two Children’s Hope campuses.

Aldrich founded Children’s Hope in 2002. Its website says it is “dedicated to the mental health treatment of abused and neglected children placed with Children’s Protective Services.”

In the past two years, several dozen deficiencies were documented at the Levelland and Lubbock campuses, including rooms that “smelled strongly of urine,” staff making children go outside without proper clothing for the weather as punishment for not going to sleep, and a child that was not supervised by a staff member and defecated in another child’s bed and room, according to Family and Protective Services’ compliance history.

The agency is still investigating the licensing of Children’s Hope. The nonprofit’s license remains in effect so it is still be allowed to provide services to children not under the state’s care despite the state suspending placement of foster children and Aldrich’s removal from the contract.

At least once a month, officials will “evaluate the efforts, progress and sustainability of any corrective actions to ensure services delivered meets high standards of professional quality, safety and well-being of children,” according to the letter.

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Information from: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, http://www.lubbockonline.com

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