Polygamist's child welfare case pricey

The Daily Herald, Utah/March 26, 2006

Salt Lake City -- A child welfare case involving the children of polygamist John Daniel Kingston has cost the state a bundle.

The state Division of Child and Family Services spent an estimated $381,744 on the two year case involving Kingston and Heidi Mattingly.

During the case, 10 of the couple's 11 children were placed in foster care.

DCFS spokeswoman Carol Sisco said the case was unusual in its length, types of provided services and the number of children involved.

Most of the money spent by DCFS paid for out-of-home care, including $215,000 for foster parents.

Family preservation services, child protective service investigations and in-home supervised visits cost another $31,000.

DCFS attributes another $135,000 to staff time for case workers and supervisors, as well as other indirect expenses, including some services provided to the family about six years ago.

But the state's overall tab is likely much more.

DCFS expenses don't include costs for state attorneys from offices of the Guardian Ad Litem or the Utah Attorney General.

Kristin Brewer, GAL director, said she did not have a total. And Mark May, chief of the child protection division in the attorney general's office, declined to provide a breakdown of costs, saying the information is privileged.

The Kingston case began in February 2004 after the family's two oldest daughters argued with their parents over ear piercing. The girls were immediately removed from their mother's home.

Eight months later, the other children were placed in foster care after a case worker said Mattingly and Kingston were not being cooperative.

The younger children, now ranging in ages from 3 to 16, were returned to their mother's care last summer.

Last fall Mattingly and Kingston voluntarily surrendered their parental rights to their elder daughters, now ages 17 and 14. They remain in state custody.

Kingston was recently allowed to resume contact with his children, although 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth Lindsley has refused to close the case.

A review hearing is set for June 15.

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