Connecticut Toddler Abused, Nearly Starved to Death After Being Placed With Relatives Who Had ‘Criminal Past’
Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate is blaming “the utter collapse of all safeguards” for the near-starvation and abuse of a toddler who was under the care of the Department of Children and Families.
The child advocate in a 64-page investigative report released Tuesday says the child welfare agency placed the boy with relatives in Groton with a history of prior abuse and neglect allegations and a criminal past.
“It’s one of the worst cases I’ve seen that didn’t result in a fatality,” said Sarah Eagan, of the Office of the Child Advocate.
Various workers involved with the case told investigators they had been unaware of the foster parents’ history.
At 13 months old, DCF workers placed in the Groton home even though the foster parents didn’t complete proper training or licensing.
The young boy — identified only as “Dylan” — was eventually removed from the relatives’ home. At 19 months old, he was so undernourished that he had poor muscle tone and head control. He has since recovered.
“There are so many eyes on a child in foster care. Somehow this child lingered in this home without anyone seeing that he was battered and almost starved to death,” Eagan said.
In the report, DCF workers would visit, but only wrote three reports in a 5-month period. The day after the boy was brought to the hospital and DCF was notified, 18 entries were entered by DCF workers.
Numerous DCF workers on the case, but according to Hartford-area television station WFSB, nobody came forward, even though they were skeptical of the home.
There are some alarming emails that DCF workers wrote to each other in July.
Dylan was hospitalized in November, and a supervisor wrote to a caseworker, saying “Is it possible the baby has colic? (I am being lazy, don’t know how old Dylan is, but that is a possibility.)”
The caseworker replied “He is 15 months old. I don’t think he should be crying non-stop. Crystal is very difficult. She left me a long message and I understood all about two words she said.”
The supervisor replied “OMG, I cannot stop (laughing). Advise her to bring him to the pediatrician, or we can look for another placement for him. Way too much drama with this family.”
Another red flag was that the family had 150 days to get licensed with DCF never did, something that is against state law.
“DCF workers never picked up on it,” state Sen. Len Fasano said. “And that’s the failure of this agency and I think it goes right to leadership.”
DCF called the case “unacceptable.” Three workers were disciplined. A fourth retired.
Fasano has asked DCF Commissioner Joette Katz to step down before and said there has been children who have died or neglected under her leadership.
“I can’t even imagine what this child went through. I can’t even imagine,” Fasano said.
Fasano has called for Katz to step down for the third time.
“More kids have lost their lives in DCF care under this commissioner than any other commissioner,” Fasano said.
Click here to read the full report.