RIVERVIEW — The day after an autistic foster child drowned during a birthday party at the family's home, the prospective adoptive family who hosted the gathering was hailed by Hillsborough Kids Inc. as one of the agency's most dedicated and trained medical foster families.
"For the last 10 years, they have provided a safe and loving home for countless children," said Hillsborough Kids spokeswoman Jeanine Bedell.
The Department of Children and Families also released a statement saying it had never had a problem with the family.
Saturday afternoon, 11-year-old Arriyanna Pivachek disappeared from the party at 11159 Golden Silence Drive, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Eight adults at the party began the search, which followed with about 50 sheriff's deputies, including canine units, a helicopter and a dive team.
Deputies found the girl at the bottom of a small pond behind the house. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Sheriff's Office released no new details Sunday, and the Brandon foster family with whom the girl had been living declined to comment.
As the state investigates the circumstances of the drowning, Hillsborough Kids is working with both foster families to provide crisis and grief counseling.
"Yesterday's tragedy speaks to a much broader issue of child deaths," said DCF spokeswoman Terri Durdaller.
"In Hillsborough County, one of the leading causes of child death is drowning, and as a community, we can do better to ensure the safety of our innocent children."
Times staff writer Stephanie Wang contributed to this report. Alexandra Zayas can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3354.