HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - The head of the Department of Family and Child Services said that if state workers would have followed proper protocol, it might have prevented the death of a 2-year-old girl who was in the care of a foster parent.
DFCS Director Bobby Cagle told NewsRadio 106.7’s Christy Hutchings that the workers ignored what was going on in the home of Jennifer Rosenbaum leading up to the death of 2-year-old Laila Daniel. Cagle said the social worker and supervisor on the case, who have since been fired, didn’t file proper reports that would have sent a red flag up the chain of command.
In July, the state took custody of Daniel and her 4-year-old sister. They placed the girls in the foster care of Rosenbaum.
"We initially had them in foster care. There was a movement in the community to have the children placed at the home of the Rosenbaums and they were vetted, they came out looking like good candidate," said Cagle.
Cagle said it didn’t take long for concerns to be raised about the Rosenbaum home. DFCS sent a case worker to investigate after another foster parent noticed bruising on the children.
“The first account of this, she took the foster parent’s [Rosenbaum] word, and that's not uncommon. I think you have to look at the totality of circumstances. My concern arises when you have multiple reports and each time you take the word of the person who is considered to be the habitual perpetrator without going behind them to check to see if what they're saying is true," said Cagle.
On one of those occasions, 2-year-old Laila broke her leg, reportedly during a gymnastics practice.
"That requires that you do a child service injury report so people with the chain of command with more experience than you have can look at that. That didn't happen. I think that's partly at the heart of what the problem is," said Cagle.
Cagle feels had these two employees followed procedure, Laila would still be here.
"In this circumstance, there were questions that could have been asked, that would have ascertained the veracity of the statements that were made, and that was not done," said Cagle.
Cagle cannot find an excuse to why they didn’t follow procedure. The Director of DFCS said the case worker wasn't overworked. In fact, she had 16 cases which he described as manageable.
"I know they never intended on this happening. They intended to do good things for children. Unfortunately there are consequences when you have a circumstance where you have a policy guiding you on what to do and you don't follow it," said Cagle.
The case worker was a rookie, having only been then there two years, and Cagle said she is devastated over this. But after he looked at all the facts, he had no choice but to fire her and her supervisor.
“I determined that looking at this early on, that the decision making is not good and that the case worker and supervisor involved, I could not any longer trust that they would make the right decision on behalf of children,” said Cagle.
"There are things we ought to be able to look at in these jobs and say they're a pattern of facts emerging here that lead me to believe that we need to do something more. Unfortunately that recognition wasn't there and it has resulted in the death of a child"
Laila's Foster parent, Jennifer Rosenbaum is being charged with the toddler’s murder.