Seven months before CPS took custody of three children found alone in an unheated and filthy Lake Stevens home, a social worker visited and reported the house was clean and tidy.

Share story

A state social worker visited a Lake Stevens home more than seven months before three children, ages 7 and younger, were found abandoned without heat or food in the filthy residence, according to newly released documents.

In June, a caseworker for Child Protective Services (CPS) wrote of the visit to the home of Mark Dorson and Amanda Foley that despite a rundown exterior, the home was tidy inside and the parents were demonstrating skills they’d learned in parenting classes.

The home is “shabby on the outside with lots of junk (Dad’s projects) but the interior is very clean and uncluttered,” a caseworker wrote.

The social worker also wrote that the two parents were affectionate with each other, and the children were easily engaged, well-behaved and “smiling and happy,” according to documents released Wednesday by CPS in response to a state Public Records Act request.

“Mother and father have been heavily engaged in services, no safety concerns have been noted and the family has remained incident free,” a caseworker wrote in a closing summary of the case.

The family told the caseworker they planned to move to Arizona.

However, the family did not move.

Lake Stevens police were called to the home in late January by a person who had gone to the house and found the children alone. Officers responded and found the children, now ages 7, 3 and 1, alone in the home surrounded by garbage and human and animal waste, with no heat or food.

The children were taken into custody by CPS and placed in foster care.

Dorson, 33, and Foley, 32, were arrested a few days later at a CPS office in Monroe. Each was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court with multiple counts of child abandonment and criminal mistreatment.

Foley is also facing a 2010 drug-possession charge that had previously been deferred.

The documents provided by CPS indicate the children are in foster care and doing well physically. A caseworker noted, however, that the 7-year-old felt guilty because she was unable to take care of her family.

CPS records show that Foley had been reported to the child-welfare agency multiple times before the birth of her youngest child in 2014.

Foley’s oldest child, a 10-year-old girl, remains in the custody of her biological father and is not involved in any of the CPS matters.

Foley’s 7-year-old daughter had been removed from her custody, but was returned after her mother completed a drug-treatment program in 2008, records show.

CPS was also notified when Foley’s third child, the 3-year-old boy, was born prematurely in 2011. The reporting party said Foley gave birth to the child in the hospital’s parking lot.

The caller said they were concerned that the baby’s father was not bonding with the child and expressed concern that Foley could be a victim of domestic violence. The caller said she once visited her baby in the hospital with two black eyes she claimed she got in a car accident.

CPS records indicate that the father of Foley’s second and third children is her half-brother, a felon who now lives in Alaska. Dorson is listed as the father of the 1-year-old boy, according to CPS records.

In February 2014, medical personnel reported to CPS that Foley had tested positive for drugs while at a hospital giving birth to her youngest child. A test of the baby did not reveal drugs in his system, but he was born two months prematurely and deemed to be at risk, according to CPS records.

The agency opted to provide the family with services, including parenting classes and in-home services, and the infant was ultimately released to Foley and Dorson.

According to CPS documents, the Lake Stevens elementary school that the 7- and 3-year-old attended called the agency three times in the months leading up to the arrests of Dorson and Foley.

The first call was placed in October when the school reported that the older girl had missed nine days of school and had told a staff member that she had not eaten dinner the night before because her parents had fallen asleep on the couch.

When asked about the child’s weight, the school said the girl was healthy, dressed appropriately and got along well with other children.

The agency determined there was not a specific allegation of abuse or neglect and did not investigate further, according to the documents.

The second call, on Dec. 9, was also screened out because the “allegation (was) documented in a previous” call, according to the CPS records. The school had again reported a history of spotty attendance and said the child “smells like she hasn’t bathed,” the document shows.

The school reported at that time that the younger child had been enrolled in the nearby preschool and that the school was planning to assist the family with hygiene issues.

Records show the last call from the school was placed Jan. 30.

In that call, school staff reiterated their concerns about attendance, said the child was “very dirty and smells terrible” and because of that other children did not want to sit near her. The school also reported that the mother also smelled unpleasant, appeared overwhelmed and cried frequently.

CPS determined at that point that action should be taken and the call was referred for Family Assessment Response in which families are introduced to services that can help, according to CPS records.

The next day, however, police arrived and removed the children, court and CPS records show.