How DHR places children after tragedies like Monday’s murder-suicide in Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Madison County DHR Director Tonita Phipps tells us the call comes in almost immediately from the scene, “Usually we would be contacted by law enforcement.”

The Department of Human Resources is always on call, specifically for situations like this one.

They act quickly.

Phipps runs through it, “If there are relatives that may be involved that the law enforcement may be aware of, we would contact the relatives and do a home visit to ensure that they are able and willing to care for the children and if the children would be safe in that home.”

They get started on that while the investigation is still in its early stages.

Phipps adds, “We would go out immediately. If the relative is living in another county, we would contact our sister county and ask them to do a home visit.”

There are limits to where DHR can place children. It has to be family.

“We would not be able to place them with a family friend,” Phipps elaborates, “Unless in a situation where the parents were able to enter into a safety plan and give us permission to place with a family friend. So if there was not a relative, then we would have to bring the children into foster care.”

But the decision is made swiftly, just like the decisions of their emergency counterparts on scene.