As part of our year-long investigation into Michigan’s probate courts, the 7 Investigators have uncovered an alarming practice: court appointed guardians putting the people they’re supposed to be caring for into unlicensed group homes.
While it’s not illegal for certain group homes in Michigan to operate without a license, when you’re dealing with someone who’s considered legally incapacitated, experts say most people in these situations do require care from a licensed facility.
“They took her dignity from her, they took everything from her,” said Peter Klavinger.
Klavinger says his grandmother, 80-year-old Mary Helen Plummer, had lived on her own for years.
But after a family friend told the Oakland County Probate Court that Plummer was having memory loss, court records show a Judge appointed a Southfield attorney as a co-guardian.
Charlene Glover-Hogan is a Public Administrator, a lawyer appointed by Michigan’s Attorney General to handle probate estates after someone dies.
But several judges in metro Detroit like to appoint Public Administrators as professional guardians for adults who are considered “legally incapacitated.”
“It’s awful,” said Klavinger.
Klavinger says he was outraged when Glover-Hogan moved Plummer into an unlicensed group home in Warren -- a home that was operating illegally as an Adult Foster Care facility.
“It smelled, she didn’t look like her hair was brushed. She had on the same clothes every day, it was for a week,” said Klavinger.
Desperate, Plummer’s family hired an attorney.
“He called Glover-Hogan, and said did you visit? She said no. He said, well you’re supposed to – and I can name several violations right off the top,” said Klavinger.
In Michigan, a group home must be licensed if the owner receives compensation for providing personal care, supervision, and protection, in addition to room and board to people who are mentally ill or disabled.
Clarisse Carter runs Due Season Residential Services LLC, the unlicensed group home in Warren. State investigators from the Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs inspected the home in October and found that Carter was violating the law.
Carter applied for a license 11 months ago, but refused to answer our questions about why she was operating the home before being approved by the state.
The guardian later moved Plummer to a licensed facility, but according to state records, Glover-Hogan still has one ward inside the Warren group home.
“So you have a document that you want to show me indicating that it’s unlicensed,” asked Glover-Hogan.
During an interview Tuesday, 7 Investigator Heather Catallo shared the Special Investigation Record from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees Adult Foster Care Facilities.
The report, which is public record, tells Clarisse Carter that she has been providing adult foster care, and says “any person who provides foster care for 24 hours a day, 5 or more days a week, for 2 or more consecutive weeks for compensation without a license is in violation of [Public] Act 218.”
“I don’t have anything indicating that that was the case,” said Glover-Hogan.
Glover-Hogan says based on the level of care required in Plummer’s case, she didn’t think that a licensed home was needed.
“My goal, is make sure they have a roof over their head, they have heat, they have electricity, they have water and they have food,” said Glover-Hogan. “We all serve as public servants – it’s not an easy job.”
Glover-Hogan said going forward, she will do more research, and she said often when she initially places wards, she does not have access to any of their funds yet, which can make placement extremely difficult.
“I do the best I can with what I have,” said Glover-Hogan.
“An individual that’s incapacitated that needs a higher level of service, the likelihood is that that type of facility would require a license,” said Larry Horvath, the Director of Michigan’s Bureau of Community and Health Systems. The Bureau supervises the state’s 4200 licensed group homes.
“We would strongly try to encourage the courts and educate the courts on that, to make sure that those guardians and placing agencies are placing them in a proper setting,” said Horvath.
The owner of the group home would not return our phone calls to comment on this story.
After a legal challenge this fall, Mrs. Plummer’s son and cousin are now her guardians, and she is now living at home with relatives.
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