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Woman sues in child's foster home death

TAMPA — A woman whose disabled daughter died two years ago in foster care has filed a wrongful death claim against the agencies and a foster mother involved in her child's care.

Rikka R. Pinckney, born with Down's syndrome, died of a heart attack on June 30, 2006, after a 14-year-old girl in her foster home bit her 13 times and then smothered her with a pillow. Rikka was 11.

The foster mother, Delores Wilson, was cleared by law enforcement of child neglect but lost her foster parent license.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, Pinckney's mother, Vernette Pritchett, alleged that the Florida Department of Children and Families and Hillsborough Kids Inc. gave Wilson a Florida license despite knowing that her foster care license in Alabama was being suspended because she failed to meet requirements.

The lawsuit says Wilson cared for more foster children than her license permitted and allowed children with a history of physical and sexual aggression to sleep in the same room as other foster children.

The agencies jeopardized Rikka's health and safety by placing her in Wilson's home and failed to provide proper oversight of her care, the lawsuit said.

Wilson and a DCF spokesman could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Wilson has pushed for reforms in the state's foster care system. She told officials at a public meeting last year that authorities never told her about the 14-year-old's violent past before the teen was placed with her.

Woman sues in child's foster home death 07/01/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 6, 2008 1:11am]
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