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Prosecutors reviewing DCFS failures as state investigates toddler's death, foster home abuse

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BATON ROUGE - District Attorney Hillar Moore said he is scheduling meetings with the State Department of Children and Family Services after recent problems at the agency were exposed over the past week.

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One child overdosed three times on fentanyl and died. Other children were left in the care of a foster parent who is now in jail, accused of raping and molesting them.

"First of all, our main focus is on the defendant who is charged and arrested with this crime," Moore said. "I don't want to lose focus of that. Surely, you want to make sure there are processes in place when there's a complaint or an issue arises and it's addressed properly."

Moore will also be looking at whether any criminal violations took place. Right now, that could be tough to prove even though two lawmakers have called what happened at DCFS criminal.

"For someone to be charged criminally, you have to show that there was negligence, close to intentional or intentional," Moore said. "Versus sloppy behavior, bad work habits or incompetence. It's completely different than criminal negligence or intentional acts."

Last week, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark said the toddler who overdosed did not have to die.

"I think this was preventable," Clark said. "If there was a moment between the second and third overdose where action was taking place and the child was placed in protective custody, then the third overdose would not have occurred."

Following Clark's interview, meetings were held at the capitol pertaining to the overdose death as lawmakers promised to fix the problems.

"Whatever it is, we need to find it, we need to fix it, because this is not acceptable," State Senator Regina Barrow said. "The legislative body will not allow it to be."

Things took a dramatic turn this week when WBRZ interviewed the grandmother of one of the foster children allegedly raped in another botched DCFS welfare case. Despite her complaints about conditions at the dilapidated house where the children were living, nothing was done.

"My grandson said it wasn't just him and us, he made us boys—which was three of them there—perform sex for him so he could watch," Sylvia Smith said.

Following that interview, State Representative Jason Hughes out of New Orleans called for the Secretary of DCFS and two of her top leaders to tender their resignations.

"For every issue that comes out of DCFS, you can count on the secretary and top brass to offer excuses. Whether it's technology, workforce or lack of funding," Hughes said.

DCFS said this week that employees who were involved with the botched cases would be disciplined. The WBRZ Investigative Unit asked questions about whether any discipline was implemented. The agency said personnel actions were made but would not elaborate.


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