Friday, February 19, 2010

DHS not at "fault" for abuse death of 10-year-old girl? Are you kidding me? (Philadelphia, Pennsylania)

DHS's handling of this case was found to be"thorough" by an "independent review"?

What drugs are you people on anyway?

This child had been in the system since 2006, and nobody associated with DHS could ever find any abuse. Two school nurse kept trying to get this child help, but incompetent caseworkers and doctors couldn't "prove" abuse--or so we're told. (The last doctor to "see" her, just one month before her death, didn't even give her a full exam. So he completely missed her fractured hip and the 7-inch gash on her head hidden under a hair weave.) Given how extensive this child's injuries were--investigators after her death called the incident "one of the worst cases of child abuse they had ever seen"--this is absolutely unbelievable. Just breathtaking incompetence and arrogance.

The little girl finally died last fall from an infection from her untreated broken ribs. The stepmother has been charged with murder, the custodial father DOMINGO FERREIRA apparently commited suicide is jail.

Note that Daddy and the stepmonster tried to blame the injuries that were detected on the non-custodial mother, even though she lived in Puerto Rico! And apparently DHS was so caught up in the "blame the mother" mentality that they bought this line of bull, and they never questioned how illogical this accusation really was. Puerto Rico is 1500 miles from Philadelphia! How was this even humanly possible? In fact, they NEVER CONTACTED THE MOTHER OR ANY FAMILY MEMBERS IN PUERTO RICO regarding this bizarre account.

DHS did a "thorough" investigation? Please stop insulting our intelligence.

Panel exonerates DHS in child-abuse death
By John Sullivan

Inquirer Staff Writer

A panel of experts who reviewed the abuse death of 10-year-old Charlenni Ferreira found no fault with the city Department of Human Services' handling of her case, but said city agencies responsible for children needed to work together to prevent deaths.

Charlenni, a fifth grader at Feltonville Intermediate School, died in October in what investigators called one of the worst cases of child abuse they'd ever seen.

She first came to the agency's attention in 2006 after a school nurse called the agency's child-abuse hotline, saying Charlenni had gashes on her hands, a split lip, and other injuries.

But the agency said that after investigating, monitoring the family, and twice taking Charlenni to doctors who specialize in abuse cases, it could not prove abuse and had no legal ground to keep the case open. During the investigation the Ferreiras complained that DHS was harassing the family.

The case was closed in March 2007; two years later, the girl was dead.

Police charged Charlenni's stepmother, Margarita Garabito, 43, of Feltonville, with murder. Her father, Domingo Ferreira, was also charged, but he committed suicide in jail shortly after his arrest.

Yesterday's report is the first independent review of the department's handling of the case.

While the report challenged the department to find ways to work better with schools and health professionals, it called DHS's handling of the case "thorough."

The legally mandated public report is limited to Charlenni's history with DHS and makes recommendations to improve the department's handling of cases.

The report further suggested that DHS develop a policy on when and how to gather records from other states, develop a list of approved medical providers to conduct exams of children when abuse is suspected, and develop a formal way to let doctors know when they are seeing a child with a history of alleged abuse.

In the weeks after Charlenni's death, the public was horrified by revelations that for months before she died, a second school nurse had flagged problems with the girl's gait and demanded the family take her to a doctor.

Left to rely on information provided by the girl's stepmother, the doctor ordered some blood tests and never fully examined the child.

If he had, he might have found a seven-inch gash in her head that had been stuffed with gauze and hidden under a hair weave, and a fractured hip that made her limp.

Charlenni died a month after the exam from an infection caused by untreated broken ribs. The infection filled her lungs with fluid and collapsed them, police said.
Charlenni also had injuries indicating that she had been sexually abused. Police said sexual-assault charges are unlikely because DNA tests were inconclusive.

The case rocked DHS officials, who had undertaken three years of changes at the department since a series of high-profile child-abuse deaths in 2006 prompted the firing of the commissioner and other top officials at the department.

At the time, many of the details surrounding child deaths were unavailable to the public. Under Act 33, a state law passed in 2008, all child-abuse deaths must be reviewed by a team of experts and their findings made public.

Philadelphia's review team includes the city's medical examiner, a prosecutor, doctors, social workers, and DHS officials. The team makes findings about how DHS handled the case but does not examine the actions of other entities.

The agency is not required to follow the team's recommendations, but DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose said yesterday that she would carry them out unless they are unreasonable or unrealistic. In those cases, she said, she would go back to the panel and work out an agreeable alternative.

"There is a reason for these reviews and recommendations, and we need to act on them," she said.

She said she had already acted on several recommendations by asking all regional child-welfare offices to create relationships with local school principals.

The report credited the agency for its thorough investigation of the case and for providing intensive services to the family, even though the initial abuse report could not be substantiated.

It further credited DHS with extending services until Charlenni could be seen by a pediatrician specializing in child abuse.

The family told investigators and doctors that Charlenni's biological mother in Puerto Rico had abused the child before she moved her in 2006, an allegation her mother denied after the girl's death.

But DHS never called anyone in Puerto Rico to try to confirm the family's account, the report noted.

Although the report does not name the School District of Philadelphia, it noted that DHS had received reports of Charlenni's suspected abuse in 2006 and 2007, but not in 2008 or 2009 when Charlenni had multiple injuries, including scratches to her face, a "cauliflower ear," and scalp lacerations. The child also had a noticeable change in her gait, the result of a fractured hip.

Ambrose said the agency was eager to train schools and health professionals to recognize when a child is being abused, and to emphasize that they are required under the law to report it.

"We've embraced the process, and it's made us a better agency," she said.