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Scott County sent Suzanne Arntson, Human Services child welfare manager, and Gretchen Young, Health & Human Services licensing supervisor, to meet with the group.
They passed out written answers to questions, including “How do we know when there is a problem?” Answer: “Most information on individuals is classified as private and cannot be shared.”
Asked why residents could not have stopped the arrival of such a home, they said that a residential program with a capacity of six or fewer must be allowed in neighborhoods by state law and must be treated like any other single-family home so as to have “the benefits of normal residential surroundings.”
But the Andersons have observed that the parents of their baby sitters are ill at ease enough to turn up and watch over the safety of the teenage girls.
“That’s not a normal thing,” Jayme Anderson said. “It’s so frustrating. We don’t know why police were there — was it a minor disturbance, did they have medical problems? What if someone does something violent and hurts us? That’s too late for us.”
Township Board Chairman Brent Lawrence said he and his colleagues are in much the same position as the neighbors.
“We didn’t know much about it either. We have no control whatsoever. We felt there needed to be a forum for questions,” thus the public meeting. “There was an awful lot of concern, and we felt something needed to be done by way of communicating.”
Town Supervisor Tom Kraft said, “Often people don’t even realize a group home is there for years [there are dozens in the county]. I have seen squad cars at a neighbor’s house and it is always two or three, never one. I am not going to go up and say, ‘Why are the cops there.’
“It’s too bad it started off this way in a new home and it stumbled. Hopefully that gets cleaned up. I don’t think it’s a danger, but I’m not a neighbor there. I hope nothing happens.”
David Peterson • 952-746-3285