Saturday, December 4, 2010

"CPS does not remove children for physical abuse or sexual abuse..."

"CPS does not remove children for physical abuse or sexual abuse cases. We mainly investigate and remove children related to general neglect," said Cheadle.

Child Protective Services Documents In Baby's Death Released 
 BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Child Protective Services has released documents pertaining to the death of a 1-month-old last month. The documents include findings and past CPS referrals to the home of baby Jordan Johnson.

Pages and pages of blacked out lines was what 23 ABC found among Jordan's file released by CPS.

Department of Human Services director Pat Cheadle said law enforcement and the district attorney's office ordered CPS to black out the information.

"Right now, we can't do anything that's going to jeopardize the integrity of the case," said Cheadle.

Police say the 1-month-old died while under the care of his parents, Denise Belmonte and James Johnson Jr. The coroner said the newborn had broken arms and legs. James Johnson admits the couple has a history of domestic violence.

"When domestic violence is in the home then, more likely, there is the increased risk of having a child caught in that domestic violence and being abused," said Raye Bugnosen of the Alliance Against Family Violence.

Bugnosen said, oftentimes during domestic violence, children are caught in the crossfire and injured intentionally or accidentally. In the arrest report, it says Jordan also had third-degree burns on his genitals and buttocks from a hot bath. The parents told detectives they did not seek medical attention for the burns because they were afraid law enforcement and CPS would get involved and take away their other two children, one of which had been taken away by CPS before.

In CPS reports, a social worker visited Jordan at San Joaquin community hospital the day after he was born. Cheadle said it's routine procedure for mothers who have an open case with CPS.

"Our department would come in and do an investigation to determine if the new baby should be detained from the mother or if the mother should take the new baby home. If the mother hasn't completed her case plan, and if there's risk to the new baby, there's a good chance the baby would not go home. If the mother completes the case plan, it's possible the baby would go home," said Cheadle.

So how is it possible for a baby to die while his family is under the watchful eye of CPS?

"It really depends on the circumstances around abuse or neglect that's being looked at," said Cheadle.

Cheadle said law enforcement officers are the ones who investigate and remove children from an abusive home because child abuse and sexual abuse cases are criminal matters. CPS investigates cases of neglect because they are welfare matters.

"CPS does not remove children for physical abuse or sexual abuse cases. We mainly investigate and remove children related to general neglect," Department of Human Services director Pat Cheadle said.
Even though another child in the home was taken away for neglect, Cheadle said there would have had to be other reports or evidence of neglect on Jordan to warrant a visit by social workers.

Cheadle said if neglect or abuse were to be found, CPS and law enforcement would take Jordan away but it is up to a judge to decide for how long.

Cheadle said CPS is not the only agency responsible, so is law enforcement and the judicial system.


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