A New Home

McGuckin Idaho standoff court video monitor 175x122 AP
A suitable foster family has been found for six McGuckin children, who were released from a Sandpoint hospital, child welfare officials say.

"The children have met with the foster parents and approve of the idea of moving in with their family on a temporary basis," said Michelle Britton of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The family, whose identity is being withheld, agreed to accept all six children and took them in Wednesday night, she said.

Bonner County sheriff's deputies arrested the children's widowed mother on May 29 on a warrant alleging child neglect and tried to take the children into custody the same day, believing they were malnourished, cold and living in unhealthy conditions in their rural Idaho home.

But the children holed up for five days, keeping officials at bay with their pack of semi-wild dogs. They finally agreed to surrender last Saturday after they were assured their mother was OK, they would be allowed to stay together and their dogs would not be harmed.

Sheriff Phil Jarvis said "all but a couple" of the family's dogs - which had attacked deputies, neighbors and livestock - have been captured and taken to a shelter in Kootenai County.

About a dozen families had initially volunteered to take the children, but most were found not to have enough space and experience for such a large undertaking, Britton said.

"Few families have the room and ability to care for six children," Britton said.

The problems placing the McGuckin kids illustrate shortages throughout the state's foster care system, Britton said.

There are just over 1,000 licensed foster care families in Idaho, and about 1,300 kids in the system, she said.

Meanwhile, mother JoAnn McGuckin, 46, remains in the Bonner County Jail, even though she is free to leave. She is refusing to leave the jail because of conditions that would prevent her from taking custody of her children.

Prosecutor Phil Robinson said the six children are physically fine, and not malnourished as previously believed. Officials had previously retracted statements that the family home did not have electricity.

The children are Kathryn, 16; Benjamin, 15; Mary, 13; James, 11; Frederick, 9; and Jane, 8.

Their father, Michael McGuckin, died May 12 at the age of 61.

Sheriff's deputies searched the house Monday, finding five guns and ammunition. Officials also said the family house near Garfield Bay was filthy with dog feces, human waste and rotting food.

At a hearing next Monday, a judge will decide where the children will live for the next 30 days. The judge could return the children to their mother, retain state custody or send them to live with their mother under regular state scrutiny. A decision on where the children will live for the next year will follow the 30-day period.

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