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Former employee claims pattern of neglect in state-licensed Phoenix group home

The former employee provided photos to 12News showing bullets and moldy food she said were found in the homes for foster teens.

PHOENIX — Another former North Star group home employee is speaking out after police say a resident of the state-licensed group home shot and killed another.

She is the seventh current or former employee to reach out to 12News following the fatal incident and describes a pattern of neglect.

“I wanted to be a part of something big. I wanted to make a change," she said. “And unfortunately, that never happened.”

RELATED: 'It is uncontrollable': Former North Star resident speaks out about crime, unsafe conditions following deadly shooting

12News is keeping the former employee's identity anonymous because she still works in the foster care field.

The former employee used to work at multiple North Star group homes for foster teens. She quit after the shooting at the facility on Mountain View Road.

“It took this young man's death for this for an investigation to happen when it should have happened a long, long time ago," she said.

She said for months, she reported dangerous conditions to both North Star's upper management as well as the Department of Child Safety, which licenses the home. She would write incident reports she refers to as "IRs."

“We have been writing IRs constantly about contraband, taking pictures of it," she said. "They are very much aware of what goes on behind closed doors. And no one is doing anything.”

She provided one of those photos to 12News showing several large bullets which were found on site after she said a resident was seen carrying in a shotgun case.

Credit: 12 News

“And I’m like so where’s the gun?" she said. "I called the CEO right after and he just told me to assume it's not there. They did a search. It's good. And I'm like, 'Just assume it was not there?' He could have hid it anywhere. That's terrifying. There could be a gun on campus loaded and ready to go.”

This former employee said she also raised health concerns while working at a North Star group home for girls. She said she was disgusted when she went through the kitchen and shared more photos she took showing moldy and expired food.

Credit: 12 News

“It was just unbelievable. Is it just appalls me," she said. "That's a huge health risk.”

She said drugs were a known problem. She said some teen residents would even sell drugs to others.

One night, the former employee said she witnessed the consequences when a teen overdosed.

"I saw another resident who's only 18 in the bathtub," she recalled. "I turned around, and his face is completely blue. And so I immediately pulled him out of the bathtub. And I started giving him CPR, and his roommate called 911."

Fire data shows they responded to a code.

"Thankfully, he started breathing, and the police or the ambulance came, and they gave him Narcan," she said.

She said she was sure the company or state would take action after that but claimed that did not happen.

Less than three months later, another resident would not be so lucky after he was shot and killed.

“I talked to a lot of these kids just to make sure how they're doing after the shooting," she said. "And they said, 'Miss, they don't care about us. It's all about money.'”

She and several other employees tell 12News North Star is severely understaffed. Josh Weiss, a North Star spokesperson, sent us the following statement in response to that claim:

"Our facilities are, and have been, compliant with all staffing ratios as set by DCS. Like most companies, we are always looking to hire more good people but it is completely false to say we are understaffed."

When shown that statement, the former employee said it was not true.

DCS and North Star have declined all interview requests.


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