Hampton Roads leads region in Child Abuse and Neglect deaths
HAMPTON ROADS, VA – Some of the most vulnerable people in our community are dying at an alarming rate.
Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise, and local groups are working to educate parents and make everyone a partner in prevention.
The Eastern Region Child Fatality Review Team says the rate of kids dying from child abuse and neglect in this area is the second-highest in the state — which is why is they’re working to increase awareness of the issue.
“So many of these deaths are accidental, but some of them are intentional and we have to worry about those, too. Some people just aren’t safe parents, and we need to protect children from those parents as well,” said committee member Betty Wade Coyle.
The committee says 14 children in Hampton Roads died from abuse or neglect last year. Five of those children were infants who never reached their first birthday, and five more victims were 3 years old or younger.
The team reviewed 49 cases of abuse or neglect that were investigated by local agencies last year, including the including the death of 5-year-old Levi Robertson in Isle of Wight.
His mother and her boyfriend were found guilty of manslaughter after the child was found unresponsive in January.
“Our number seems high compared to the rest of the state, but that’s because, in some ways, we feel it’s because we’re counting better than other areas,” explained Coyle.
Coyle says the three factors that contribute to the largest number of cases are substance abuse, mental illness and domestic abuse.
The committee says children are also dying in unsafe sleep environments.
Coyle says the safest way for babies to sleep is “alone, on their back, in a crib.”
Poverty is an underlying issue, but more can be done to help parents, like providing safe housing options and home visiting programs for families who are high-risk.
Baby dies after being left in day care van
JACKSONVILLE, FL – After a 4-month-old baby found unconscious Wednesday afternoon in a van at a Westside day care died, the co-owner of the center was arrested, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.
Darryl Ewing, 56, was booked into the Duval County jail at 8:18 p.m. on a charge of child neglect, according to online jail records.
Police said the infant girl was found still in a child safety seat inside the van at Ewing’s Love and Hope Preschool on Lenox Avenue about 1 p.m, nearly five hours after the vehicle used to pick up children was parked out front.
Jacksonville firefighters tried to revive the baby and took her to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, but the child could not be saved.
“Tragically, today a family has just been notified of the gut-wrenching loss of their precious baby girl,” Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell said. “DCF immediately opened a joint child death and child care licensing investigation in coordination with law enforcement. We will continue to support this family as they mourn the loss of their baby girl.”
Police said the center cares for about 14 children and no other children were injured.
Investigators said they learned Darryl Ewing was the driver of the day care van that picked up the infant and other children earlier Wednesday morning and no other employees were on the van. According to detectives, the van arrived at the day care about 8:25 a.m., and children were off-loaded and taken into the center.
Investigators said Darryl Ewing then parked the van in front of the day care and left the vehicle unattended with the 4-month-old still strapped in her car seat in the third row of the van.
At 1:03 p.m., according to the Sheriff’s Office, the infant’s mother called to make after-school arrangements for all of her children and it was discovered the baby had never been checked into the day care. Police said day care employees went to the van and discovered the infant still strapped in her child seat, unresponsive, and called emergency services.
Throughout the afternoon, the building was surrounded by police tape, officers, evidence technicians and homicide detectives, including the JSO chief of investigations.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, further investigation revealed that Darryl Ewing was responsible for maintaining a separate driver’s log documenting all children that are placed onto the van, which was separate from the parental log signed by parents. Detectives viewed the driver’s log, which they said showed Darryl Ewing had logged in two of the infant’s siblings, but not the infant.
Police said they learned, based on interviews with other day care center employees, that it is the van driver’s responsibility to check and make sure children are offloaded from the van at the day care center.
“It was determined the suspect’s actions (and lack thereof) failed to provide the victim with the necessary supervision and provide services to protect the victim’s physical health, all which was essential to the victim’s well-being and contributed to the death of the victim,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Ewing refused to talk with detectives when he was taken to the police station to be interviewed and that’s when he was arrested. Police identified him as the co-owner of the day care center, though the day care’s website lists Darryl Ewing as the director.
Duval County jail records show he has been arrested at least four previous times.
The state said will be immediately suspending the day care center’s license because it wasn’t aware children were being transported.
While the center has a valid license with DCF since 2016 and inspectors have not found any Class I violations in its quarterly inspections, the agency said it didn’t know the day care center was transporting children, so it never monitored transportation standards.
The state said parents have already been contacted to let them know the center’s license is being pulled.
The other owner of the business, Gloryian Ewing was arrested 18 months ago on two counts of child abuse. While those charges involved her own teenage children — police said they were beaten with an extension cord — she was arrested at the day care center in December 2017.
After Gloryian Ewing, 51, completed a pretrial intervention, the charges were dropped.
DCF records show the center’s license was not affected by the owner’s legal troubles. The center had no violations in its last three quarterly inspections by the DCF — most recently on April 15.
The last time inspectors found any issues at the facility was last July when the report noted a lack of documentation of worker training and outdoor equipment, and field trip forms were not available for review. Since the center has been open, the facility has received two Class II and 13 Class II violations.
News4Jax meteorologists estimated that the temperature inside an enclosed vehicle parked in the sun at midday Wednesday could have reached 123 degrees.
A woman who lives in the neighborhood didn’t want to give her name but said her children used to attend this day care center and her heart breaks for the baby’s family.
“Luckily they were grade-school age, but they were left on that same day care van,” the woman told News4Jax. “It’s sad. I just wish that day care was shut down. It really, it’s not the best day care.”
Another woman who works at a different child care center calls it a tragedy.
“It’s just heartbreaking right now to know that a child has lost its life,” Lisa Brown said. “Just coming to day care and being taken care of and not returning home. I think about my own grandkids.”
The Sheriff’s Office and DCF continue to investigate the infant’s death.
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – A child that died on Tuesday had not even seen their first birthday. The person who reported the death claimed the baby drowned, according to the Albuquerque Police Department.
They have not yet said how the baby died, but that the circumstances are suspicious.
The community is hurting — wanting to know exactly what happened or if someone is to blame. That will all come out in the investigation, according to APD.
As police continue to investigate, the community is coming together to say enough is enough.
“Burying a child is the worst nightmare anyone can go through and then at the hands of a parent, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever the case may be, it’s a nightmare,” said Veronica Rael-Garcia, an advocate whose daughter was killed in a road rage shooting.
Rael-Garcia knows that hole left behind after a child dies. Her daughter, Lilly, was killed in a road rage shooting when she was just four. It was a case that shook the community.
“The community is upset, they’re scared, they want answers,” said Crystal Gutierrez-Baca, an advocate with New Mexicans Against Child Abuse. “So now more than ever we need the community to join us.”
Crystal Gutierrez-Baca is teaming up with Rael-Garcia to be the voice for those children. The goal is that other people and leaders from around our state start making a change.
“There should be programs out there in the city and the state so that if somebody feels overwhelmed they’re able to reach out,” said Rael-Garcia. “I wholeheartedly believe if we had tougher laws that may be something that does deter it. Who knows?”
Gutierrez-Baca and Rael-Garcia said the conversation needs to start now. In recognition of Child Abuse Awareness Month, they’re putting together the third annual March Against Child Abuse this Saturday. It will be at the Bataan Memorial Park from noon to 3 p.m.
Children found locked in dog cage, living
in deplorable conditions, Wise County
RHOME, TX – A father and mother of four children are facing charges after deputies discovered a horrific scene of child abuse and neglect at a home Tuesday morning.
According to Wise County deputies, they received a call at about 7:20 a.m. on a report of domestic violence at a house off County Road 4930 near Newark, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth.
Andrew Fabila and Paige Harkings face four charges of child endangerment, authorities said.
When deputies arrived at the home, they found cuts to the Fabila’s face and heard children inside a barn, according to Sheriff Lane Akin, with the Wise County Sheriff’s Department.
Four children were found inside the barn: a 4-year-old girl and three boys, ages 5, 3 and 1, Akin said.
The oldest two children were locked in a dog kennel measuring about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet, he said. The other two were found mostly unclothed on the floor of the barn, covered in urine and feces, Akin said.
Akin said it was the worst child-abuse case he’d seen during his 44 years in law enforcement.
“I’ve not worked one where children are locked inside a dog kennel, and I find that absolutely disgusting,” he said.
Inside the barn, the space was “crudely fashioned” into rooms to create some sort of living quarters, Akin said.
“There was plenty of food inside the barn, but the refrigerator and the cabinets had been locked so the kids could not get in to get food,” the sheriff said.
The children were hungry and thirsty when deputies found them, so authorities gave them food and water before they were taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Akin said he saw no obvious injuries to the children before they were hospitalized.
The children were released from the hospital Tuesday evening and will be placed in foster care, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said.
Deputies noticed feces scattered throughout the house.
Fabila was sent to the hospital with cuts. Harkins also faces a family violence charge.
The couple had been staying with the paternal grandparents’ house. Texas Child Protective Services confirmed that they had previous contact with the family, but would not elaborate.
Colorado Child Abuse, Neglect hotline
sees record number of calls in 2018
DENVER, CO – Concerned Coloradans called the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline almost 222,000 times in 2018, according to a new report from the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS).
December marked the end of the fourth year of the public awareness campaign, which is put on by the CDHS.
The 24/7 hotline — 1-844-CO-4-KIDS or 1-844-264-5437 — received a record of 221,969 calls in 2018, which is a 10,500 increase from 2017.
Thanks to the people who made the calls, social services agencies investigated the safety of more than 57,042 children in 2018. Of those children, 13,289 were experiencing abuse or neglect, according to CDHS.
In addition, 12,787 families received voluntary support from social services to help prevent abuse or neglect in the future.
Minna Castillo-Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families at CDHS, said the growth in the number of calls is encouraging because it means more people understand their role in preventing abuse and neglect.
“Sadly, children in Colorado continue to experience abuse, and reporting can’t be the only way Colorado is working to help build communities that strengthen families and prevent child abuse,” she said.
Out-of-town placements for these children are sometimes necessary to protect them, but most children and teens who receive help through child welfare services are not removed from their homes.
Calls to the hotline are routed to the appropriate county, which are responsible for responding to the reports. As of Monday, 38 counties rely entirely on the hotline to screen their calls, according to CDHS.
“The fact that more than half of Colorado’s counties now believe strongly enough in the Hotline County Connection Center to trust them to screen all of their child abuse, neglect and child sex trafficking inquiries and reports represents a wonderful vote of confidence in our system,” Castillo-Cohen said. “Many of these counties are smaller in population and therefore have fewer staff members to cover large territories. Using the County Connection Center’s call screening process, resources and personnel are freed up to be boots on the ground in these counties, connecting directly with and supporting families in crisis.”
To learn more, visit www.co4kids.org . Call the hotline at 1-844-264-5437 if you suspect a case of child abuse or neglect. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.