1. Chandler Grafner was taken away from his mother over a drug related offense. He was placed in foster care, where he was split from his brother and eventually placed in the home of one of his mother’s ex- boyfriends. There he was beaten, whipped, and locked in a closet. He was denied the bathroom and was forced to defecate on himself in the closet. He would be beaten again when he did. He had to beg his little stepbrother for food, who would occasionally sneak Chandler dry cereal, but not too much because he would get in trouble if his parents caught him feeding the boy. While under the care of CPS, the agency received reports of abuse but decided not to investigate. Chandler stopped attending school and eventually starved to death in that closet, weighing a mere 30 pounds at the time of his death. He spent the last months of his life locked in a closet, sitting and sleeping in his own feces and urine, slowly being starved to death, all while in the loving care of the State of Colorado. “I never put a hand on either of my kids,” says Christina Grafner, Chandlers mother. “I just did drugs.” It’s a good thing that CPS ‘rescued’ this child. He might be alive and well today if they hadn’t. (Prieto & Gutierrez, 5-10-07; Migoya, 5-13-0 7; Pankratz, 7-11-07; Mitchell, 11-18-107)
2. CPS in Massachusetts decided it knew what was best for 11-year-old Haleigh Poutre when they took her away from her mother. She was placed with her biological aunt and the aunt’s husband. While in foster care, claims surfaced that she was being abused. But CPS knows best, and decided in those reports that Haleigh had caused her own abuse. On September 11, 2005, at the age of eleven, Haleigh was burned and nearly beaten to death with a baseball bat at the hands of her foster parents. She was hospitalized in critical condition in a coma.
A mere eight days later, Haleigh was still hospitalized in a coma, when child protective services, who once again had full custody of her, decided that hospital bills are expensive. So they went and got a court order to kill her, claiming that she was in a “permanent vegetative state.” A legal battle ensued, and the state eventually won. But when welfare workers tried to pull her plug, Haleigh had other ideas. She started breathing on her own. Before long she was doing things CPS said she would never do, and though confined to a wheelchair with permanent brain damage, she is now able to speak about the abuse and is described as a happy child who waves to everyone. It’s a good thing CPS was there to ‘rescue’ this girl from her home, otherwise she might have been nearly beaten to death with a baseball bat. Oh, wait…the state of Massachusetts did that to her. (TCF, Add title and link up)
3. After Eryn Reyne ‘LoReyna’ Bareas mother died, she went into state custody, which awarded her care to a family member. While she was in foster care the State of Colorado once again failed to investigate abuse and neglect allegations. LoReyna, too, was starved to death, weighing just 35 pounds with bruises and abrasions all over her little body, according to an autopsy report. (Migoya, 5-13-07; Quintero, 5-31-07)
I wish we could say that such cases are unique and isolated, but they’re not. This is but a sampling of the many tragedies which take place year to year. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a fight breaks out at the funeral of a one-year-old child between a distraught father and other family members. The reason? The boy, who had been removed and placed in foster care with his aunt, Crystal Keith, was then murdered while in foster care. Police have charged the foster mother with first-degree reckless homicide and child abuse in his death. (USA Today, 11-20-08, p. 10A) When 9-year-old Johnny Dragornir’s mom lost her job and couldn’t care for the boy who had cerebral palsy, she trusted that his foster placement would care for his needs. Rather, he was starved to death in 2007. (USA Today, 11-5-08, p. 19A)
When Thomas “TJ” Wright’s mother was arrested and imprisoned on drug charges, the boy was placed in foster care, where he was beaten to death by his 25-year-old foster mom. (USA Today, 10-8-08, p. 7A) In Columbus, Ohio, a Supreme Court case ordered the state to release names of some foster parents after a developmentally disabled boy died while in foster care in 2006. (USA Today, 4-18-08, p. 8A) In Arkansas in 2008 alone, four children had died in foster care from abuse or neglect before the year was even up, prompting the state to begin unannounced visits to its foster homes. (USA Today, 12-19-08, p. 11A) The move was prompted by sharp criticism from an advocacy group unhappy with the way the state is handling such cases. In Colorado, Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill aimed at providing better training to case workers after the recent deaths of 13 children who were in state custody. (USA Today, 5-20-09, p. 8A) Such examples go on and on.