Another toddler foster child is killed….

By Attorney David Engler

Another toddler was killed in a foster home, this time in Maryland. 

The two year old girl was beaten to death by the 12 year old son of the foster parents. 

Public child welfare agencies are the only ones who don’t see that our delivery system of child protection services is largely broken. They hide from scrutiny by cloaking themselves in rules of confidentiality.

Of the families I have represented the thread is common. They are usually poor, uneducated and unable to ask questions.  Perhaps that is why their children end up in children services care.

But once government gets involved, then it becomes our business and the death of one child who was given to an agency that was meant to protect should cause an immediate and open review and call for changing the bureaucratically bloated child protection system. 

Below is today’s editorial from the Washington Post.  It could have been written in all but a handful of states like Virginia, Kansas and Florida that have overhauled children protective services.

WHEN WELFARE authorities remove a child from the home, it is supposed to be for the child’s safety. It is simply unthinkable that a 2-year-old girl in Prince George’s County who was taken from her mother’s custody was beaten to death while in the care of a foster family. Not only must there be a thorough review by county and state authorities, but it’s important that circumstances of the case — including a determination of whether the tragedy could have been prevented — be made public.

Aniyah Batchelor, who turned 2 in March, died Tuesday of “blunt force trauma,” according to Prince George’s police, who said she was beaten inside her foster parents’ home in Fort Washington. A 12-year-old boy, son of the unnamed foster parents, was charged with second-degree murder. Police allege that the boy had “beaten the child repeatedly’’ in a single attack; no weapon was used. It appears that the parents were away and their 15-year-old daughter was sleeping.

When a foster child is killed confidentiality is no excuse for concealing what happened and why.

The toddler had been in foster care since November. “Our hearts go out to the families involved. Both families and the staff that worked with them will need our support in the coming days,” read a statement issued by the Maryland Department of Human Resources, parent agency for the Prince George’s County Social Services Department, which handled the child’s placement. There is no doubting the need for sympathy, but officials also must provide a better explanation of the actions taken in this case.

Predictably, they have chosen to hide behind a supposed need for confidentiality and privacy even as state spokesman Pat Hines acknowledged that the state can discuss some details about a child in foster care if there is “an allegation of abuse and neglect” resulting in a death. Incredibly, state legal authorities concluded that that exemption doesn’t apply to Aniyah’s case.

Perhaps this was a tragedy that could not be foreseen; maybe it occurred despite best and correct efforts. But there are unanswered questions. Was the foster home properly screened? Were the parents trained? Had there been any signs of trouble? Were there alternatives that would have allowed Aniyah to avoid foster care? The public, the 6,859 Maryland families with children in foster care and, above all, this little girl’s mother need more than expressions of sorrow. They deserve answers.

Attorney David Engler
Phone: 330-729-9777
http://www.DavidEngler.com Attorney Engler’s website
Areas of Practice: Family Law, Elder Law, Domestic Relations, Bankruptcy, Criminal

Also published on Attorney David Engler’s Law Blog http://davidengler.wordpress.com

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  1. #1 by Pat on July 9, 2012 - 8:48 am

    David,
    It’s time for an overhaul of Children Services! This is an absolute unspeakable tragedy that an innocent child was murdered, and with tax payer dollars!!! Why are we paying agencies that are incompetent? I know you have uncovered many cases in Trumbull County, OHIO and just ONE should be enough to cause a better system to be put into place like Virginia’s and Florida’s. Keep pressing forward to save Ohio’s children from these travesties and egregious situations at the hands of our social services, especailly the Trumbull County Children Service Board. The public needs to know what is happening, since they are paying those responsible. There is a public outcry brewing! We are appauled at the callousness and carelessness of CSB, who are more concerned about protecting their wages (children are big business), than protecting the children! There have been REPEATED murders, deaths, rapes and molestations of children while under the supervision of Trumbull County CSB and even inside their doors!!! HOW MANY MORE MUST HAPPEN BEFORE SOMETHING IS DONE TO FIX THIS BROKEN SYSTEM IN OHIO? But then we need to remember this is an agency where fraudulent backdating of a year’s worth of records took place and another employee used government equipment at CSB to send you a very threatening e-mail after the hearing on 1-5-12. There is NO accountability. Children are dying needlessly. There is a better way with proven and successful systems being implemented that Ohio needs to adopt and once again lead the way to help protect children who truly need it.
    Keep fighting for the helpless children and victims of TCCSB!
    We are behind you!
    Sincerely,
    Pat

  2. #2 by Amy Senne on September 26, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    Pat,
    Has there been anything presented to the Attorney General’s office? I’m talking the way that Florida has over hauled their CSB? The death of one child is two many. I was told once years ago by a 15 year old gir that they don’t care about me I’m a foster child and to them I am a second class citizens. I now years later believe this to be true. Who care is what some people think they are only a foster child! A staff member of CSB, a commissioner or employee of the court would NEVER allow their children to be treated the way that foster children are treated.
    Fight the good fight David you have more support than you know!
    Amy

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