State launches investigation against Lexington foster parents over abuse charges

A state Office of Inspector General is investigating a case in which two foster parents have been arrested on criminal abuse charges.

The women, who according to court documents shared the same address at a home in southeast Lexington, were designated as therapeutic foster parents for children with serious emotional problems, said Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman Anya Weber.

Jamie Nicole Stamper, 33, was caring for two foster children under 12 in October when she allegedly injured them by striking them with a belt, an arrest citation said.

Stamper "admitted to striking both children with a belt when she lost her temper,'' the citation said. "Both victims suffered injuries to their back and side area."

Rachael Abner, 38, identified in an arrest citation as the children's foster mother, was present when the alleged abuse took place and did not stop it, her arrest citation alleged.

Abner and Stamper have pleaded not guilty in Fayette District Court to charges of first-degree criminal abuse. Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for Nov. 20 in Fayette District Court.

Lexington attorney Stephen Isaacs, who said he represents both women, declined to comment.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has an agreement with private child-placing agencies to provide therapeutic foster care for children with serious emotional problems, Weber said.

The home was licensed by a private child placing agency that cabinet officials would not name. The home was monitored by the Cabinet's Office of Inspector General, Weber said.

The private child-placing agencies recruit, train, approve and monitor foster parents in accordance with state regulations, said Weber. The approval process includes background checks on all applicants and their household members.

The inspector general's office has initiated an investigation in the Lexington case, Weber said on Thursday.

"The investigation is ongoing and no further action has been taken by OIG," she said.

Weber said that because of confidentiality laws, she could not say whether the children had been removed from the women's home or comment on their status.

The cabinet doesn't track the charge of criminal abuse in Kentucky foster homes specifically, but does look at the rate of abuse and neglect in foster homes, said Weber.

Data is available from 2011 which indicates the percentage of foster care children who were not victimized by a foster care provider for Kentucky is 99.66 percent, she said.