Monday, December 26, 2011

Some DHS workers allowed to keep jobs after child deaths - Oklahoma

Agency audit discovered ‘substantial violations,' blatant irresponsibility by child-welfare workers in three deaths


DHS workers are not always fired over mistakes that contributed to children's deaths.

In 2008, a Craig County child-welfare specialist, Jamie L. Veysey, was suspended without pay for only five days after a 3-year-old boy died.

A supervisor, Debra L. Grace, was suspended without pay for 60 days.

A DHS audit after the death found “substantial violations” of DHS child-welfare policy.

DHS workers had returned the medically fragile boy to his mother from foster care in February 2007. The boy, Blake Ragsdale, died of natural causes less than a month later.

He was placed with his mother even though she did not have a job, a telephone or a car, records show. The mother had failed to take care of him properly a year before during a reunification attempt.

He was in foster care because he had tested positive for methamphetamine at birth.

DHS found the workers failed to notify a judge the boy was being reunited with his mother, failed to make a safety assessment of the mother's home beforehand and failed to put any services into place to help the mother with the boy's care.

DHS found Veysey failed to check on the boy enough times after the reunification. DHS also found both did not notify the proper DHS authorities of the death.

Veysey resigned in 2010, records show. Grace no longer handles child-welfare cases, a DHS spokeswoman said.

Beaten to death

A Beckham County child-welfare specialist, Liberty Michelle Carter, was suspended for 15 days without pay in 2009 after a young boy, Ryan Weeks, was beaten to death. Carter was disciplined for her “action/inaction” in the case.

Ryan, 3, died on Nov. 4, 2008, after DHS placed him back in his mother's Elk City home from foster care. The mother's live-in boyfriend eventually pleaded no contest to first-degree murder.

A foster mother had pleaded with the agency not to return Ryan to his mother's home because he had returned from visits there with bruises. The foster mother complained to a DHS county director that Carter would not listen to her. DHS found Carter had concluded in July 2008 that the foster mother likely was making false allegations.

DHS also found Carter failed to properly look into an injury to the boy in September 2008 and failed to address Ryan's mother's fear that her boyfriend was overwhelmed.

Carter resigned in December 2010, the DHS spokeswoman said.

Medically fragile

An Oklahoma County child-welfare specialist, Glen E. Marshall, was at first offered more training after a medically fragile baby died a few days after he failed to get the child help.

“Your failure to ensure the safety of this infant demonstrated a blatant disregard of your responsibilities as a child-welfare specialist, poor judgment and egregious lack of risk assessment skills,” he was told.

Marshall was fired in November 2009 — more than a year after the child's death — after he continued to mishandle cases and lied to a supervisor, an assistant district attorney and an Oklahoma City police detective, the disciplinary records show.


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