State sues over fake adult family home 'training'

Business allegedly sold $72 pre-signed certificates

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TACOMA — The state contends in a recently filed lawsuit that a Pierce County business sold bogus continuing-education training packets and certificates to potentially hundreds of adult family home employees.

The Attorney General's Office wants a judge to order Adult Family Home Training, owned and operated by Dennis and Jennifer Lalander, to immediately:

• Stop issuing the credits and certificates.

• Refund money to people who bought the phony credentials.

• Pay a $2,000 fine for each alleged violation of the state's Consumer Protection Act.

"The Lalanders were aware that they were not approved to offer continuing-education training and that the certificates that they were selling could not be used to show compliance with (the state's) continuing education requirement," according to the lawsuit, filed Friday in Pierce County Superior Court.

Under state law, people who work at adult family homes are required to complete at least 12 hours of continuing education per calendar year.

"The continuing education requirements seek to ensure that adult family home employees have the bare minimum training necessary to safely care for such vulnerable populations," the suit states.

The Lalanders' business allegedly sold $72 "home study" kits that included pre-signed certificates of completion that employees could submit to the state Department of Social and Health Services as documentation they'd fulfilled their continuing education requirements, the suit states.

"In fact, none of the training packets that defendants sold or offered for sale could satisfy DSHS's continuing education requirements because defendants were not approved by DSHS to offer continuing education," according to the suit.

"This left the employee or the home where they worked in the position of having to spend additional money to obtain continuing education training elsewhere."

The kits were sold over about 18 months.

"The Lalanders estimated that they kept files or contacts for somewhere between 360 to 1,500 employees and that they sold between five and 10 continuing education training packets and certificates per week during the year and a half in which they operated," the suit states.