HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A state investigative report issued Tuesday faults Connecticut’s child welfare office for missing the warning signs surrounding the family of a 2-year-old Plymouth girl who died in 2014 from an overdose of a drug prescribed to her mother.
A report by the office of Child Advocate Sarah Eagan faults the Department of Children and Families for assigning a “lower risk” to Londyn Sack’s family, despite her mother’s history of drug abuse, erratic behavior and a pattern of child welfare neglect complaints.
“Repeatedly, the formal ‘risk’ and ‘safety’ assessments of this family either minimized or did not appreciate the chronic and severe nature of parental impairment,” according to the report. Between 2007 and 2014, the girl’s family was the subject of 10 child welfare reports in both Connecticut and North Carolina that abuse and neglect had occurred.
The Office of Chief Medical Examiner determined Londyn died from an overdose of suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction. Her death was ruled a homicide. The girl’s mother, Rebekah Robinson, has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor.
DCF said it has since improved its risk assessment processes, including developing special protocols when working with infants and toddlers. The agency is also working with a nationally known private social services organization to come up with “predictive analytics” to help identify families that present the greatest risk of a fatality for very young children.
“The men and women at the department feel deeply the loss of this young child. Such tragedies are rare among the tens of thousands of families and cases we serve, but nevertheless we are always working to prevent these types of heartbreaking events form occurring again,” according to a written statement from the agency.
Eagan said she welcomes the changes made by DCF but still questions whether enough is being done. She recommended the agency conduct systematic case sampling and other reviews to make sure the low-, moderate- and high-risk assessments of families are reliable. Egan said she does not believe the risk assessment mistakes are isolated to this one case.
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