Sunday, December 17, 2017
Public safety

DCF report cites lapse in oversight of toddler's family

TAMPA — In the weeks before the death of a 1-year-old boy, a subcontractor assigned to help the family made lapses in its assessment of the case, according to a report released by the Department of Children and Families.

Success 4 Kids and Families, Inc. failed to review prior abuse history or take it into account when creating a plan for the family of Jaydin Sarria, the report said.

Jaydin died on October 2012 after being hospitalized with multiple bruises on his head and face as well as a depressed skull fracture. His mother, Anjenette Lopez, and her boyfriend, Viviano Pinto, have been charged with aggravated manslaughter. Both are in the Hillsborough County jail.

The family had been under the watch of Success 4 Kids and Families, which is a provider for the county's lead child protection agency, Eckerd Community Alternatives-Hillsborough, until about two weeks before the incident that led to Jaydin's death.

"There were clear lapses in the assessment of case risk and information gathering from referral to case closure," a case summary released recently by Eckerd said.

The incident that led to the family's involvement with Success 4 Kids and Families occurred in summer 2012 when Jaydin was taken to the hospital with small burns on his back, wrist and pinky toe. Lopez told investigators he came in contact with a hot curling iron on his wrist and toe. The burns on his back happened when Pinto was ironing a shirt on the bed, she said.

When the child protection investigator visited in July, they noticed a bruise on Jaydin's ear that neither Lopez or Pinto could explain, a report said. Lopez also refused to take a drug test during that interview, admitting she smokes marijuana when her kids aren't around.

Investigators closed the case in August and left Jaydin in his mother's care. Success 4 Kids and Families was assigned to provide assistance and counseling.

"Based on the circumstances prior to little Jaydin's death, we did not have any legal sufficiency to remove him from his home or to limit the contact with any of the adults in the home," DCF spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said in a statement. "We did engage this family in services designed to strengthen parenting skills and improve their ability to provide a safe environment."

During the following weeks, Success 4 Kids and Families made 18 visits, the report said. Many of the interactions with the children were less than 10 minutes. Conversations with Lopez focused on substance abuse and basic needs.

"The separate sessions (only two were held as a family unit) afforded little opportunity to observe interaction of the mother and her children such as how she would react to challenging behaviors," the report said.

Staff was unable to meet Pinto because he was serving jail time in Ohio on an unrelated child-support charge. His relationship with Lopez was "confoundedly viewed as a strength despite his potential involvement in inflicted injuries to an infant and a reported violent criminal history," the report said.

Success 4 Kids and Families closed its case in September despite knowing Pinto would be returning to the household in the days to come, the report said.

Eckerd has recommended the immediate review of all cases currently assigned to the staff involved in Jaydin's case, the report said, as well as a review of procedures.

"It is an outrage that an adult could do something like this to an innocent child who didn't deserve it," said DCF spokeswoman Durdaller. "This is a tragic outcome and one we did not foresee."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.

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