Imagine my anger when I am surfing the internet and come upon this article in the New York Daily News,”Brooklyn tot covered in bruises fights for his life after suffering horrific abuse, mom eyed.” The toddler, who had been removed from the custody of his biological mother and placed in foster care, is currently clinging to life and suffering from various internal injuries to major organs- as well as evidence of past injuries to his body. According to the article, the seriousness of his injuries were clearly visible to anyone looking at his battered little body.
Coming from a child welfare law background I know that foster care agencies usually scrutinize potential foster parents very closely- even those who are biologically related to the children they intend to care for. If you had past involvement with child welfare authorities, either in or out of Court, and have “indicated” or substantiated cases of abuse or neglect in the State Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR) then you cannot become a foster parent nor are you in a position to adopt a child.
What is also lesser known, is that foster care agencies also conduct criminal background checks of potential foster parents, and individuals over the age of 18 who reside in the same home or who could come into regular contact with the child. In addition, once a child is placed in foster care regular visits by a caseworker are required to ensure the health and safety of the child. So it really blows my mind how this woman could have fallen through the cracks–and how no one- NO ONE noticed the multiple beatings this child took. Body checks are part of caseworker visits, particularly for babies and small children. Fact.
Out of curiosity, I googled “requirements to become a foster parent” and was taken directly to New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFs) website and read this. What struck me was this paragraph:
“Character: Each applicant for certification or approval must be required to provide the agency with the names of three persons who may be contacted for references. The agency must seek signed statements from these individuals attesting to the applicant’s moral character, mature judgment (emphasis added), ability to manage financial resources, and capacity for developing a meaningful relationship with children, or interview the individuals in person.”
AND THIS ONE:
“Criminal History Record Check
The agency must (emphasis added) send the fingerprints to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) where they are then sent to DCJS to conduct a search of its database and for DCJS to send the fingerprints to the FBI for a search of its database (emphasis added). The fingerprints are kept on file at DCJS and the certifying/approving agency would be notified should there be an arrest or conviction reported in the future to DCJS. The fingerprints are not maintained by the FBI.”
So, with all of these regulations I would really like to know how this 32 year old woman got through the cracks- because she certainly lacks in “moral character and mature judgment,” especially if one believes that her 19 year old boyfriend is responsible for these atrocities. Did she forgot that she was responsible for this child, and I am not talking about her kid boyfriend? Did someone forget to send the proper documentation to the correct office? Did someone decide that her criminal record didn’t really mean anything? Did someone forget to make their required home visits, to inquire who was around the baby or to do body checks? What about physicals? Doctors? Oh, that neighbor who heard the child being massacred next door, stood by and did nothing?
Indifference. This is what this story reeks off. Indifference for the life of a child. Indifference towards the responsibility of being a foster parent, doing one’s job, and protecting those who can’t speak for themselves. It’s disgusting. Oh, to the 19 year old boyfriend, you can run and hide, but you’ll be found. Coward. To the foster mother, may God have mercy on your soul- because I sure don’t.