Friday, February 8, 2013
Each picture of the bruises makes Mary Crow and her daughter, Nicole, more and more angry.
"I'm very concerned about it and I'm not going to put up with it," Mary Crow said.
Nicole snapped the pictures of her daughter, who is in foster care, during her weekly visit Wednesday. In the pictures, she says, you can see bruises all over her daughter's cheek. She suspects the bruises are from abuse.
The State removed Nicole's daughter, Juliette, last February over allegations that Nicole's abusive boyfriend made the home unsafe. Nicole says her daughter was never abused in their home.
So, she says, it's not right that for the second time since Juliette has been out of her care, she's had to file a complaint with the Department of Child and Family Services over suspected abuse in Juliette's foster homes.
Nicole says this time a Youthville case worker told her the foster family's dogs were playing and Juliette somehow got caught in the middle. Nicole says she doesn't believe that story.
"My first thought was that she was getting abused again in another home and I needed to do something about it," Nicole Crow said.
In November, she says her daughter showed up for a visit with bruises and bite marks. Nicole says Juliette was removed from that foster home after she and Mary filed a complaint.
"Then they move her to another home and the same thing happens to her where a dog is attacking her? What is going on?" Mary Crow said.
Representatives for Youthville and the Department of Child and Family Services told KAKE News Friday they can not comment on any specific case due to privacy concerns.
Youthville Director of Marketing and Sales, Lynn Deckinger, says there is a process in place to help families with any kind of concern or incident. She says after a concern is brought to their attention, their first step is to ensure the child is "safe and protected." Next the team informs the parents and connects them with the Department of Child and Family Services which conducts an investigation.
"We definitely understand all parents concerns and that is one reason it is so important for agency's to have a process in place for families," Deckinger said in an email.
But Mary and Nicole say they think there's a bigger issue than just their case. They say they think the state's foster care system is failing vulnerable children.
"Even if they (the case workers) are checking once or twice a month, they need to do a lot more checking," Mary Crow said.
They say they don't want what they think happened to Juliette, to happen to other children.
"It's not right, these children need to be protected," Mary Crow said. "If they are not protected by the State, who will protect them besides us?"
Nicole says she is no longer in a relationship with her previous boyfriend. She says she has a steady job and a place to live. She says she has a court date scheduled for February 28th. She hopes to get her daughter back at that time.