STANTON, Mich. (WOOD) — The state has ordered a Montcalm County adult foster care facility to close because it isn’t properly licensed, meaning nearly 40 residents will have to find a new home before the end of this week.
Laura’s Loving Acres, located on Colby Road near Stanton, was ordered shut down by an Ingham County Circuit Court judge last Wednesday. The order is goes into effect Thursday, giving families little time to find new homes for their loved ones.
“I do want some answers,” said Julie Ross, who managed to find another home for her mother Marge Gamble this weekend after a Department of Human Services employee informed her of the court order last week.
“I want to know if we’re evicted, why weren’t we given notice. And if they’re closing this place down, I’d like to know exactly why. We have heard nothing. Not a word, except ‘get out,'” she said.
Last week’s court order provides some of those answers.
The suicide of a resident last November brought state investigators to the facility. They started asking questions about the agreement made between the owners and residents. It was a unique arrangement.
Marcia and Marvin Zylstra are listed as owners of the three buildings that make up the facility. Their son Tim Zylstra ran a separate company that provided health care. Residents needing care could use Tim Zylstra’s company or one of their choosing.
Since one company owned the home and one or more companies provided care, Tim Zylstra told 24 Hour News 8 he didn’t need an adult foster care license.
But state investigators said the separate arrangement was only on paper.
Interviews with residents, guardians and other information showed Zylstra’s parents “… served as nothing but decoys for an operation completely directed by Timothy Zylstra,” according to court documents.
And the arrangement investigators found required a license, according to regulators.
The judge agreed and issued the closure order.
As to why there was such short notice to residents and their families, Department of Human Services spokesman Bob Wheaton says that in general, the department has to wait for a court’s decision before closing down a home.
“Providers have rights, and the completion of our investigation does not necessarily bring the matter to a close — particularly when the provider disagrees with our findings,” Wheaton said.
He says DHS tried sending workers to help residents find new homes, but employees at Laura’s Loving Acres wont let them on site.
Tim Zylstra told 24 Hour News 8 that’s the first he’s heard of that.
Meanwhile, families are caught in the middle.