In August, a Kentucky family got an alarming visit from a sheriff’s deputy that shook them up so badly they are seeking accountability. They want the public to know how a mixup by a social services worker ended up costing money and leading to the constant worry of their private information being leaked.
Lexington Herald-Leader reports that a Hardin County sheriff’s deputy arrived to drop off a summons off early morning to Brandon Humphries, a father of four who at the time, was accused of abusing his 3-year-old daughter.
Karin Humphries, who said she was still in her nightgown when she heard a knock on the door, was astounded when the deputy explained that Fayette County social worker Brittany Philpot outlined the accusations in the summons, which accused her husband of physically abusing their daughter.
“But we don’t have a social worker, and I don’t even know where Fayette County is,” Karin told the deputy, according to the outlet.
Brandon arrived home a short time later and with his wife, pored over the documents while the deputy stood by. They said that although Brandon’s details, such as his name and date of birth were correct, their daughter’s information was not. They noticed the child’s mother was listed as someone in Lexington, but they had no idea who the woman was.
“Within 10 seconds of reading it, I knew this wasn’t about us, that there had been a mistake,” Brandon told the outlet.
The other woman listed in the summons is a 21-year-old with a daughter who has the same name as the Humphries’ daughter. The summons was intended for that little girl’s father, but somehow Brandon’s name, social security number, and other personal information was listed.
The 21-year-old woman received the same packet the Humphries, down to the exact details of the case, including all of Brandon’s personal information. When she learned the Humphries had received details about her case, she said she was humiliated.
“I was humiliated,” the mother later said. ” I just don’t think anyone has the right to know those personal details about me and my children.”
The couple, panicking, tried called the social worker, but she didn’t answer since it was Sunday. They quickly hired a lawyer, thinking their little girl could get taken away from them by social services at any minute.
“We’re panicking, thinking, you’ve got the wrong kid, and is there a child in need somewhere and you don’t know where she is?” Karin said.
A few days later, their lawyer contacted them. He informed the Humphries that the digital paperwork that had Brandon’s personal information inside had been destroyed after the confusion was cleared up with officials.
Philpot later apologized publicly and said it was an “honest mistake” brought about by caseworkers’ inability to handle overflowing caseloads. Philpot told the Herald-Leader that large caseloads resulted in the potential for unintentional mistakes and consequences.
Philpot is currently handling 60 cases, close to “five times the federally recommended amount,” the outlet reports.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services offered the Humphries $5,000, along with reimbursement of their legal fees and five free years worth of credit monitoring. In turn, the family had to agree not to file a lawsuit against the state and agree to return all documents pertaining to the case.
The Humphries declined.
“The ability to tell our story is worth more,” Brandon said.
Eric Clark, the Department for Community Based Services Commissioner, claimed that the Humphries wanted “more precious taxpayer dollars to pay them out for this mistake.”
The Humphries replied that what they want is accountability, not money with strings attached.
“How big of a mistake are they allowed to make before something changes?” Brandon said. “They still can’t tell us who all has our information. We understand that mistakes get made, but we didn’t ask to be brought into this.”
Clark, on the other hand, said he’s more interested in retaining employees like Philpot instead of shaming her. She has an otherwise exemplary track record as a social worker.
“A new policy, a new procedure, disciplinary action is not going to prevent this from happening again, and it’s not going to correct what happened. It’s important for us to demonstrate to Brittany and our entire workforce that we care about them, because we need them. We’re not going to let bad outcomes define who we are.”
The story is developing. Check back for further details.
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[Feature Photo: Pixabay]