DCYF initiates changes after death of nine-year old girl

DCYF Director Trista Piccola (third from left) is accompanied by state officials and leaders of social service agencies as she details changes to her agency in the wake of the death of a nine-year old girl. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

An autopsy revealed a nine-year old girl with cerebral palsy who died in the bathtub of a state-approved foster home in Warwick last January died of neglect, said state officials, as the Department of Children, Youth and Families detailed a series of policy and personnel changes.

“There was a lapse in our policies, a lapse in judgement, not enough families to be able to take care of all the kids who are in state care,” said DCYF Director Trista Piccola.

“While not representative of DCYF, this case demonstrated that our safety net is not catching every single child, and that’s unacceptable,” Piccola said.

Piccola said three DCYF employees are no longer employed by the department, including the agency’s Chief of Operations, who resigned. Five employees are being disciplined, and she has recommended that two face suspension. Five more have been issued improvement plans and ordered to undergo retraining.

Piccola will also limit to five, the number of children that can be placed in a home without her approval. Unrelated children will no longer be placed in foster homes without approval.

She spoke at a Friday morning news conference, accompanied by the Acting Secretary of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and officials of two groups that interact with DCYF, Family Service of RI and the 40-member Coalition for RI Children and Families.

 

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