Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Child Services Failed Tajanay Bailey

When a child services worker fails to do his or her job, the results can be deadly. Despite the pleas of three-year-old Tajanay Bailey's foster mother, Janice Springfield, Child Protective Services returned Tajanay to her mother and her live-in boyfriend in the dreaded Phoenix apartments last month. "I told Child Services that mom was no good, and that boyfriend was no good,” Springfield said. A month later the little girl is dead after allegedly being beaten to death by her mother and her boyfriend. "She was systematically tortured over the week of Thanksgiving by her mother's fiance and by the mother," [Marion County Prosecutor Carl] Brizzi said. "We believe both of the defendants actively participated in the abuse." An autopsy found Tajanay died from blunt force trauma to her head, neck and abdomen.

Ironically, Tajanay's death came on the same day the Daniels' administration received an award from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for reforming the state's child welfare system. The squalid conditions police described in her mother's apartment after the girl's death should have given any child services worker pause. As described by the Star:

Police called to investigate Tajanay’s death were appalled at the condition of the apartment, in the 4100 block of Edgemere Court. It was strewn with food and dirty dishes, said Marcus Kennedy, an IMPD homicide detective. There were cockroaches and mice, he said, and a rank odor that caused investigators to breathe deeply once they emerged into the fresh air.Even the couple’s pet snakes were in bad shape, said Ty Holder, an officer with Indianapolis Animal Care and Control who was called to the scene by police. Holder hauled away two 3-foot-long Ball pythons. Kennedy said he saw lying on a chair in the apartment a certificate indicating Green had recently completed a parenting class sponsored by the Indiana Department of Child Services.
It is extremely troubling to learn that Tajanay had been removed from her mother's home twice for abuse and neglect. The last time she was taken from the home Springfield described physical injuries she had suffered. "[S]he had bruises around her neck, and it looked like somebody took a belt to her behind,” Springfield said, "adding that she urged Child Protective Services not to return Tajanay to her mother as recently as last month." Brizzi complained that there was no police report on the abuse Springfield described when Tajanay was last returned to her custody. I don't know what kind of reforms the Daniels' administration implemented, but they sure as hell didn't help this helpless little girl.


Anonymous said...

This story has disturbed me more than anything I've read this year.

For all our discussion about "what needs to be done" about crime, we all know that in many cases, there is nothing anyone could have done. A patrol cop on every block is still not going to prevent a given ndividual senseless criminal act.

But this tragedy is compounded by the fact that this unquestionably could have been prevented, by several people who were very close to the situation.

You're absolutely right. This calls for a a top-down investigation into what went wrong.

Anonymous said...

This poor baby did not deserve this. Bless her soul. My heart goes out to the foster mom. She truly cared about this little girl and tried to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

The child wouldn't have gone back
into the parental household without
(1) input from Div. Child-Family Services AND
(2) most importantly a CHINS Judge/Magistrate's Order.

Maybe the CHINS Judge/Magistrate ought to be speaking up.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, what is a "CHINS" Judge or Mag?

Gary R. Welsh said...

CHINS=Child In Need of Services

Anonymous said...

Watch the rats run now, led by the head weasel himself....Brizzi.

Anonymous said...

As a former Child Protection Service Casemanager (investigator) for the State of Indiana (5 years), and as one who is still currently involved with foster children, I can speak from experience. And it is my experience that the judges still have the inane philosophy that a child is better off with their biological parent, rather than in the "system". In SOME cases that is true. However, there are plenty of cases where the State has asked the child to remain under supervision, and the judge has decided for the parents. As a FCM2 (Family Casemanager Two) for the State of Indiana, I have personally seen children returned to their biological parents, only to have to go a month later and remove the child again due to continued abuse.

The ONLY way to change this is to open up the records to public scrutiny. Judges are virtually immune from having to justify their decisions, and therefore act as though they have a private fiefdom. No true accountability, no true reform, no true understanding of what is going on behind the closed doors of the Courts by the persons paying for the courts - the taxpayer!

Open the records, see who is at fault, Family Services, the Courts, or whoever. Privacy be damned! As taxpayers and voter WE have the right to know where the incompetence is. As parents we have the right to know that children are being protected!

Anonymous said...

Former sex crimes prosecutor here.

This problem will not be solved until CPS gets some people who actually give a damn about their job and change their policy from "reunification is to be preferred over all other options."

CPS was consistently uncooperative with us when we needed help. Consistently. In a decade long career, I can count on one hand the number of times CPS actually assisted us voluntarily. Mothers refusing to take the molester out of the home. Mothers refusing to take the molester out of the home. Mothers refusing to bring their children to court or into talk with us, even when provided with recordings of jail phones between the defendant and the mother where the two parties make a plan to keep the children away from us. Mothers who consistently let the husband/boyfriend/baby daddy beat them in front of the children and after charges are filed, consistently come in and recant their statement.

I once had a child battery where the defendant admitted to the police to beating and shaking the infant to the point of corneal blindness, five fractured ribs, a skull fracture, and bleeding from the ears. The mother insisted nothing was wrong with the baby and the doctors were exaggerating the scope of the injuries. She posted the bond, and the boyfriend continued to live with child (after he was released from the hospital after three months) until trial. CPS refused to get involved until the case was resolved, despite the different burdens of proof required for termination of parental rights or emergency placement.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. I understand the salary sucks for these caseworkers. I know the turnover is high. But no matter how much government you are in favor of, you must agree the goverment should prioritize defending the defenseless. We should be spending whatever it takes to get these children to safety. Otherwise, if they manage to survive to adulthood, odds are they will be filling our jails.

Anonymous said...

At least the little girl is breaking the bread of life with Jesus and the pain from these monsters no longer hurts her.

Anonymous said...

You are overlooking the fact that Mitch Daniels saved the state money in the FSSA program.....isn't that really what Mitch cares about? Saving dollars, he never speaks of saving the lives of children....

Anonymous said...

To the sex crimes prosecutor:

Your right, except for one thing. It is not necessarily the actual casemanager, but rather the supervisors who are pulling the strings and making the ultimate decisions. The casemanager gives the supervisor the circumstances and conditions, but it is the supervisor's decision to pull a child. Way to many supervisors have not been in the field for years and have not seen how things really are in homes.

Many of these supervisors are more concerned about the State getting sued over a removal than they are with the safety of the child.

I had cases where the child was being abused and the perp was still in the home and was told by management to leave the kid and place services in the home. Reason being - the "evidence" was not compelling enough to order removal.

Another case where a 15 yr old boy beat the step-mother so bad that she required hospitalization. the father stepped in and defended the step-mother. The child sustained bruises and other marks. I was ordered to substantiate abuse against the father, even though the "child" was the attacker.

I could go on and on about cases were I totally disagreed with management regarding a case, and had to do what I knew was not in the best interest of the child, but wanted to keep my job.

After five years I finally quit because I could not morally keep up the charade.

The worst part was when the department went through a re-working of procedures, and the panel was stacked with management and casemanagers that were nothing more than hacks for the State.

Like I said before, open the records, and lets see who is really dropping the ball.

Anonymous said...

Crack cocaine. The mother has a child that is a money machine for her. Money comes from the governemnt as long as the mother has the child in her custody.
In this case the child was taken away until the mother completed her "parenting course" and received her "certificate". After getting the certificate the child is returned to the mother who then begins to receive moeny again from the government.
Money is then used for crack cocaine generally suppplied by the live-in boyfriend or a dealer he knows. Money never gets to the child, it goes to the drug dealers.

This is what has been going on for years and the cycle will never be broken and more kids will die or end up no better than their parents. Both the mother and he boyfriend had criminal records and should have been in prison but there is not enough jail space or the political will to build more jail space. That's why 16,000 criminals are out on bond walking the streets of this town.
This death wasn't the first and it won't be the last.
Brizzi can grandstand all he wants but he knows and his judges know that to keep the prison from being overcrowded they must let criminals out.
If these two thugs had been in prison this would not have happened.

Anonymous said...

It seems as if there's blame being placed on all sides here--caseworkers/managers, the Judges, and CPS. Even the prosecutor.

I'm a Democrat and no Brizzi defender--can't stand the camera-shot-with-full-makeup guy. But tell me how the prosecutors can do anything, if no other aprt of the legal system is cooperating?

I thought Judge Payne was supposed to clean all this up. Remember?

He is a product of the system, too. Because any system that allows a Juvenile Judge to use public funds for his own going-away party, is cracked beyond repair.

He's arrogant, and sadly, not afraid to show that arrogance. It's the worst kind of arrogant.

He needs to go. This happened on his watch.

garyj said...

Maybe the CHINS Judge/Magistrate ought to be speaking up.
That would mean that an elected official would actually be holding themself accountable for what happens. Not going to happen. The voters haven't been holding elected officials accountable, why would they hold themselves accountable?

Can Brizzi run again? or is 2 terms all the pros. can do?

Anonymous said...

Both the mother and he boyfriend had criminal records and should have been in prison but there is not enough jail space or the political will to build more jail space. That's why 16,000 criminals are out on bond walking the streets of this town.

This is not true, at least in my opinion. We are actually bringing in prisoners from Arizona due to all this open space in DOC. Brizzi had it right when he said we should be using those beds for Marion Co. criminals instead of Arizona criminals. They could have easily done this with set court dates, buses running back and forth, etc..

Anonymous said...

9:59, You are wrong. The number of criminals out on bond awaiting trial in Marion County is 16,000. Bonds in most cases for drug dealing and illegal firearms possession, are posting out on $5,000 to $10,000 bail.
What the State of Indiana does with it's jail space is not the same as what Marion County does with it's jail space and Marion County's booked solid.
How do you think the man that was on home detention that slit a cabbie's throat the other day posted out?
Nearly every murder that has occured in this town has been committed by thugs with records a mile long that should have still been locked up.
Gary can check the statistics on the bonds and the release numbers or you can call the prosecutor yourself if want to.

Anonymous said...

This is the perfect example

Start at the bottom and work your way up. Nuff said!

Sir Hailstone said...

"Can Brizzi run again? or is 2 terms all the pros. can do?"

Terms limits do not apply to prosecutors.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The prosecutor is not term-limited.

Anonymous said...

Of all of the comments here and everywhere else, some made by people with only what information of the case is on the news, and possibly some make by people somehow involved in the case, people seem to be forgetting one thing: Ultimately, who is to blame for this girl's death? The murderers: her mother and mother's fiance.

It's true that there are flaws in DCS, just as there are flaws in any other government organization, or ANY organization, for that matter. Whenever a decision is made to place a child back into a home where they were previously removed due to abuse or neglect, many people are involved. Service providers, foster parents, caseworkers, supervisors, attorneys, judges, and even more. The policies, which are created to coincide with the law, require that due to parents' rights, they get a chance to keep their children. This is the law - not a mistake of a caseworker, judge, prosecutor, or anyone else in this case. None of these people could have predicted what would have happened.

I agree that this is a horrible tragedy that shouldn't have occurred, but the focus shouldn't be on placing the blame on the people who have tried to help. Because that's what most people working in child welfare want - to help children and prevent tragedies like these. When something like this happens it's devastating. But rather than place blame, everyone needs to learn from this. Maybe laws need to change. Maybe parents need to stop beating their children.

Anonymous said...

You said: None of these people could have predicted what would have happened.

Yes, it could have been predicted, by the history of abuse in this
20+ inch stack of reports and papers on this child's short life.

You said: Maybe parents need to stop beating their children.

Yes, these two are responsible and this little life is over. They will ultimately pay for this. But what about the hundreds of thousands of children in these moments who are still at the mercy of adults who care nothing about their protection. In the privacy of their homes, they are burning their children with cigarettes, carving them, sexually abusing them, beating them, neglecting them and torturing them.

If the system in place was working, these two people wouldn't have had the opportunity to beat this child, again, and again, and again. And there are other children right now who are back in abusive homes at the mercy of selfish and merciless adults.

Child abuse unfortunately happens and these defenseless children NEED the system because their parents are monsters.

I'm reading all your comments and I'm especially thankful for the insights given by the people who have actually worked the jobs that are intended to help abused children.

OPEN THE FILES!!! Let the failures be brought out into the light so that the true problem within the system can be addressed and fixed.


Anonymous said...

Please let me assure you that this is not just a problem in IN. I live in MI and recently my 17 month old neice was returned hoem to her mother after I cared for her for 16 months. Her mother drank through out the wardship, was incarcerated, and kept returnign to her abusive boyfriend (the father). She got pregnant and drank with this pregnancy same as the other one. Has no job, is 5000 behind in rent, 5000 behind in child support for other children, and the lsit goes on. But DHS in MI still sent this child home. She is now living in a two bedroom apartment with three adults, all on probation, twelve eyar old brother, and two month old brother. Even better, the mother's brother was recently released from jail after pleading guilty to molesting the baby's half older brother. DHS refuses to listen to any concerns or rationale. The judge yelled on the record, "Let the record show this baby is the child of _________, not me." Total disregard for this child has been shown. When did the governement change the name from the child welfare system to the mother welfare system... I don't sleep at night because I know that this baby is at risk.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyway to know the name of the Guardian Ad Litem in this case?