PHOENIX — Lawmakers held an oversight hearing on Thursday to question the Director of the Department of Child Safety after a shooting at a group home earlier this month left a teen dead.
Director Mike Faust was asked to appear before a bipartisan committee of lawmakers to ask about North Star Independent Living Services.
Faust went over facts around the shooting including questioning how days before the shooting Phoenix Police found nine stolen guns, ammunition, and drugs on site, “no youth is charged, nor is a youth detained relative to that, and within hours those youth are released back into the community.”
State Representative Kelli Butler asked Faust about what DCS did as a result, where he said, “I don’t think we responded quick enough.”
Faust referencing the response time by DCS to the facility.
Faust and the agency working on a number of possible changes to policies and procedures including if apartment-style group homes should be reevaluated.
The agency is engaging with the North Star facility to address immediate recommendations as far as security, and other measures like moving the front office location.
ABC15 has learned DCS already had to order changes at the group home.
A letter of concern in April required the facility to post a staff member at the front gate to better observe if the youth had contraband. Other measures required by DCS involved changing security camera angles and improving sight lines for better monitoring. Additional room searches were also requested.
They will also look to see if they will revise or implement who can stay in the extended foster system which is for 18 to 20 year olds, like if drugs or criminal activity is an issue. Another major step could be addressing the challenges of the juvenile justice system and youth.
North Star is still open, and lawmakers questioned Faust about it — he responded saying they are still reviewing the shooting.
Lawmakers are waiting for DCS to provide more information about North Star including the number of times they have received complaints, if any violations were found and the number of reports made about the facility.
Other letters related to DCS inspections dating back to 2020 were also released to ABC15. They mostly addressed complaints about North Star staff behavior and recordkeeping.