First there's this absolutely heartbreaking story in the Metro section that deals with a baby, Rafael Pearson, trying be adopted by his grandmother. In the time it took for the adoption to be finalized, the interim foster mother beat the kid literally senseless.
Today, he is 19 months old. He has doughy cheeks, carefree curls and a sweet spot for anyone who'll rub his back.
He also is profoundly disabled. He cannot see. He cannot walk or talk. He cannot hold his head up. He has the mind of a child of two or three months. He is likely to develop cerebral palsy. He lives in a Dunn Loring nursing home for disabled children.
The systematic abuse at the hands of the foster mother could have been prevented, or, at the very least, stopped before things got this out of hand. Unfortunately, this kid fell through the rather wide cracks in the city's social services policies.
After Rafael was placed with [foster mother] Jenkins, his social worker returned once during the six weeks the baby was in the home. Under court-ordered rules, a social worker must visit weekly during the first eight weeks a child is with a new foster family.
The social worker made her only visit to Rafael on Oct. 3, according to [Child and Family Services spokeswoman Mindy] Good. No one from the child welfare agency would see Rafael again until it was too late.
Of fucking course. I hope heads roll for this. It's not like DC has a history with this kind of monumental fuck-up.
Advocates had sued the District in 1989, saying the city's child welfare system was a wreck. The Washington Post later reviewed cases from 1993 through 2000 and documented the D.C. government's role in the neglect and deaths of 229 children placed in protective care.
In 1995, the child welfare system was placed in court receivership. It stayed there until 2001. But its efforts, catalogued in voluminous reports by a federal court monitor, have been slow in many areas.
Holy Hell. 229 children! I honest-to-God can not wrap my head around this. Two hundred twenty-fucking-nine children dead due to DC neglect. I am so happy that Rafael's grandmother is going to sue the bejesus out of DC. One would think that this sort of lawsuit, bad publicity, and 229 dead children would be enough to start turning things around. But if history is any indication, I doubt it.
Oh, but there's more! Today's editorial page featured a scathing rebuke of DC's treatment towards its most vulnerable citizens.
A 39-YEAR-OLD mentally ill man dies after a perfect storm of failures at St. Elizabeths Hospital. A 32-year-old woman with bipolar disorder who had never received a required mental assessment hangs herself in the D.C. Jail. Meanwhile, a judge determines that 650 people with mental disabilities are suffering because of the "wholly inadequate" job performed by the D.C. government.
...The St. Elizabeths patient, Mark Harris, died of cardiopulmonary arrest when he became violent and a counselor restrained him. The Jan. 9 death has been ruled a homicide. An investigation showed a series of things gone wrong: no other staff available or willing to help; one oxygen tank locked in a closet that no one had a key to; another oxygen tank not working; and no defibrillator. The counselor used a form of restraint now deemed dangerous.
The story of Alicia Edwards, as told by the Legal Times, is equally chilling. Awaiting trial in the D.C. Jail for shoplifting, the woman was flagged as having mental health problems. The required in-depth exam was never done, and she hanged herself while alone in a cell March 31. Also troubling is that jail officials initially released false information about how she was being monitored.
How anyone can call themselves proud to be from or live in DC is beyond me. What an absolute disgrace. There is a long list of people who should be ashamed of themselves for the blood on their hands.