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Infant abused to death in foster care

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Lukes Dad's picture
on Mon, 07/16/2012 - 10:20
Fight Child Protection Department Corruption: 

VIRGINIA BEACH – Nearly two years after an infant was abused to death in foster care, and just days before the state is scheduled to release a report on the case, city officials confirmed today a top social-services administrator will no longer supervise child-welfare workers.

Until recently, Cheryl Williams was the director over the city’s foster care, child welfare and child protective services, among other responsibilities. In that capacity, she supervised workers who failed to spot signs of chronic abuse inflicted by a foster mother on a 10-month-old baby, Braxton Taylor.

Kathleen Ganiere eventually shook Braxton to death in February 2010. A NewsChannel 3 investigation revealed child-welfare workers failed to spot signs of obvious and ongoing abuse. According to the agency director, the workers accepted Ganiere’s claims that Braxton fell down a lot.

Several sources told NewsChannel 3 that Williams herself announced the changes at the city’s Human Services building on Virginia Beach Boulevard this week. The changes come days before the Virginia Department of Social Services makes public a pair of reports prompted by NewsChannel 3’s investigation. The reports are expected to suggest changes to the city’s social-services agency and reveal more evidence that Ganiere was not a fit foster mother.

According to people familiar with the findings, Braxton’s court-appointed attorney revealed Ganiere refused to allow the attorney into her home to check on the child. The report also notes that Braxton was not thriving, but regressing under Ganiere’s care.

At first, Human Services director Bob Morin did not accept fault, and backed his staff. After our investigation aired, he apologized and said they should have done more to save Braxton.  He then asked for a state review.

That review is expected to be published next week. Sources told NewsChannel 3 that top administrators in the city’s Human Services department have already been briefed on the findings.

However, no one would say if the change to Williams’ duties is linked to the state report. 


Lukes Dad's picture

Read the full letter here

Baby Braxton’s grandparents asked us today to take action for them.

They asked NewsChannel 3′s Mike Mather to deliver a letter outlining their anger in this case to city council members.

At the same time, Virginia Beach leaders started working under a tight deadline to fix the city’s child-welfare division.

Today Beach leaders, including City Manager Jim Sport, started working on a plan to fix 17 major problems in the city’s child-welfare division.

The state has given city leaders until the end of August to get it done.

Spore said that at least for now, Human Services Director Bob Morin will lead that effort.

There’s a lot to be done. The state report said the Beach child-welfare division “does not look hard enough for relatives who might be able to care for children.”

Because of that, the Beach is increasing the number of kids in foster care while neighboring agencies are decreasing the number.

And the Beach puts kids in group homes when they are supposed to be, by law, with private families.

In fact, most of the Beach’s child-welfare staff said it was wrong to put troubled kids with families, instead saying these kids should be in government facilities.

The researchers wrote, “This is a workplace culture change needing to be addressed and changed immediately.”

The reports show child-welfare workers often do not follow best practices, accepted standards, or even training offered by the state.

When Braxton’s grandmother heard NewsChannel 3’s Mike Mather had met with the city manager and was speaking with city council members, she sent in a letter and asked that he pass it to them.

In part she wrote:

“It is time to act. The people involved need to be held accountable and terminated (not reassigned)…What will it take for you to realize these people under your watch are liabilities? Will it take another innocent`s death? This agency is ‘in crisis’ and our families have experienced the harshness of this crisis for 2 ½ years.”

NewsChannel 3’s Mike Mather sent her letter to the city council and city manager today.