Noah Cuatro’s Death Prompts Changes at DCFS, But Questions Remain Over Why He Wasn’t Removed From Home

Noah Cuatro is seen in an undated photo provided to KTLA by his grandmother, Eva Hernandez.

Noah Cuatro is seen in an undated photo provided to KTLA by his grandmother, Eva Hernandez.

Los Angeles County’s child welfare agency shed more light this week on the case of a 4-year-old boy from Palmdale who died after he was returned to his parents’ home following reports of abuse. But the information has raised more questions about why social workers didn’t act on a May court order authorizing his removal.

In a disclosure to The Times, the Department of Children and Family Services said it recently changed policy on so-called removal orders, requiring social workers to notify the agency’s director — not just a supervisor — about cases in which a court order hasn’t been executed. One such case was that of Noah Cuatro, who died this month under what authorities say are suspicious circumstances.

Last year, DCFS received court orders authorizing the removal of 8,900 children. It declined to follow through only seven times, according to data released by the department to The Times, an indication that what happened to Noah is extremely rare.

At the time of his death, Noah was under active supervision by the child welfare agency, and his parents had been under investigation, after at least a dozen calls were made to authorities alleging abuse in the home, The Times has reported. Noah previously had been removed and put in foster care, but had been reunited with his parents, Jose and Ursula Cuatro. Neither could be reached for comment.

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