Children Were Monitored But Died Anyway
Two recent child deaths may be linked to mental illness and substance abuse that child protection agencies overlooked.
In one case, a 23-year-old South Florida woman has been sent for psychiatric evaluation after her arrest on suspicion of suffocating her young son. The woman had had contact with police in the past when she had episodes of what appeared to be a serious mental illness, the Miami Herald reports.
The boy had been in the custody of his aunt until recently. ChildNet, a privately-run foster care agency, recommended that the boy be reunited with his mother. Although a court-appointed advocate warned against it, a judge granted the mother unsupervised visits beginning last Friday. Antwan was found dead on Monday.
A Tampa case also shows a weak spot in child protection. Police say a 1-year-old boy died in the hospital with bruises and a skull fracture, and the mother and her boyfriend have been charged with aggravated manslaughter.
Officials at the Department of Children and Families say the private agency supervising the family, Success 4 Kids and Families, failed to take ongoing family problems and substance abuse in the household seriously, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The agency began monitoring the family after the child was taken to the hospital with burns on his back, wrist and toe.