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CONTACT 13: Fiasco prevents woman from fostering child in need

Posted at 4:25 PM, Jun 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-09 01:12:04-04
It's no secret Clark County is in desperate need of good foster families.  
But Contact 13 discovered a double standard that prevents some people from caring for children.  
"If I can help somebody else, then I need to do that," says Laprice Carter. "That's what completes me. That's what makes me feel whole."
Laprice knows what uncertainty means to a child.
"Because my grandmother had to raise me and my three brothers. So that means a lot to me. It means a lot to give a child a second chance."
Coming from a large family, Laprice grew up looking after dozens of little ones. And she has years of professional childcare experience. Seeing the need, she decided to foster. 
"I'm 28. I think I'm ready. I can handle this!"
Laprice found Bountiful Family Services, an agency contracted with Clark County to help people become foster parents. They did a background check, verified her income and did home visits. 
She bought clothes and filled a bedroom with decorations of butterflies for the little girl she anticipated caring for. 
But after months of work and near the end of the licensing process, it all fell apart. 
"They pretty much told me over the phone, 'your application is denied,'" she says. 
At issue was a door in her apartment. She was told she'd have to have two in order to foster a child. There is a large window providing another exit right next to the front door, but apparently this is not good enough.  
So if that's the law, why didn't anyone from Bountiful Family Services tell her up front?  
After all Laprice says, "They came out to do a home visit with me in the beginning of this process."
But the door issue only came up near the end of the process. The explanation? In text messages, they told Laprice it's a "new regulation" that "hadn't been enforced before."  
Contact 13 discovered that's not even a little bit true.
Tim Burch, the director of Clark County Department of Family Services, says the two-exit law has been on the books for nearly 20 years -- and is always enforced. 
"We have reached out to make the sure the private company that made the oversight in this particular case holds their staff accountable," says Burch.
Bountiful Family Services wouldn't go on camera and didn't return numerous phone calls.
When we went to their office during normal business hours, the doors were locked.
We left a business card and finally got a call back.  Director Karlene Ulibarri admits her agency made an error and she takes full responsibility.  She said Laprice would've made an incredible foster parent and they feel terrible about their oversight. 
But beyond the agency's failure is a double standard in the law. Anyone can live with their own kids in the same apartment as Laprice but you can't with a foster child. 
"We do have to have a higher threshold, yes," Burch says. "Because it's all about the safety of other people's children in those homes."
Laprice understands the law, but can't get over the loss.
"I'm like trying so hard to stay together right now because I got emotionally attached to this situation. And I was so close to getting what I was fighting for."
The Department of Family Services told us if anyone pushes for change in the law to defeat the double standard, the county will support it as long as safety isn't compromised.  
You can learn more about how to foster a child in Clark County by clicking here