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Foster parents say neglect case illustrates need for loving homes


Foster parents say neglect case illustrates need for loving homes

By: Sydney Benter

Updated: November 29, 2012

The neighbor of a Terre Haute couple facing child neglect charges says he knew something wasn't right at the 12th Street home.

That couple is behind bars after a police investigation turned up evidence of abuse.

On Friday a 17-year-old boy escaped from the house and conditions that Terre Haute's Assistant Police Chief Shawn Keen calls evidence of the worst case of neglect he's ever seen.

Five children are in the state's custody now while their foster parents, Nikki and Larry Russell, are behind bars. Police say it appears the children were beaten, duct taped to their beds and deprived food.

A neighbor who didn't want his identity disclosed says he almost called police himself the night before they showed up at the Russell's. "We actually heard beating on the walls, like a hammer. Other than that, it didn't really sound fit--a lot of screaming between the older people."

Cases like this are a painful side effect of a system that can't keep up with the high volume of demand.

"There are a lack of loving caring homes that are taking in kids that need loving, caring homes," says Dan Gisel. He and his wife Bethany have been licensed foster parents for about a year. They began training and interviewing to become licensed a couple years ago.

"I believe the training is pretty extensive. somewhere around 30 hours to get your license, then 15 hours annually to continue your license every year," says Dan.

The couple fostered their first children this year. "One of the favorite things was having family nights at least once a week and that was games together, or going to the park together or just doing kid-friendly activities," says Bethany.

The couple are loving and supportive foster parents. They say they're not deterred when they hear about poor examples of foster parents.

"For us it motivates us to further the cause that we believe in and that's to continue to advocate for children that are in serious need, and there are tons of children in serious need in this community," says Bethany.

Nikki and Larry Russell are set to appear in court Wednesday.

2012 Nov 29