The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Florida's Department of Children and Families also known as DCF. They get the award for the following.
A day before Jasmine Marie Thomas' first birthday, her mother proudly told a state child-abuse investigator how she put Jasmine's finger in the icing of her birthday cake ``so the baby could taste it.''DCF has done it again, not as horrendously as in this case, but a child is dead and bureaucratic stupidity(inaction) did nothing to prevent it. A police officer calls the agency but it does nothing! For allowing another child under its supervision to die, DCF is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
The frosting may well have been one of the last things Jasmine tasted. Twenty-two days later, she died of starvation in her mother's Key Largo home.
Jasmine was the size of a 3-month-old, her skin stretched tightly over her bones like plastic kitchen wrap. A doctor's report said she looked ''like one of those African children'' whose pictures inspire famine relief.
Four months after Jasmine's death, her mother, Amy Marie Stephenson, 27, was arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter. The Jan. 9 arrest brought out a troubling fact: At the time Jasmine died, her home was under investigation by the state Department of Children & Families for suspected child neglect.
The existence of the investigation is raising questions about Jasmine's fate: How could a baby starve to death while the state was supposedly looking into her well-being? How could investigators fail to notice that Jasmine was wasting away, and, despite a long history of fragile health, had not seen a doctor in months?
And why did the DCF ignore a call from a concerned neighbor?
Days before Jasmine's death, a next-door neighbor left a phone message for DCF abuse investigator Rachel Williams, who had been looking into the family for a month but had taken no action. The children of Amy Stephenson were in danger, the neighbor, retired police Officer David Bickford, believed.
The call from Bickford, a reserve lieutenant for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, appeared to raise no eyebrows at the agency.
''I do not remember any urgency to the message; and I think I disregarded the message because [Williams] did not seem to be concerned,'' a child abuse investigator-in-training, Amy Brewer, later wrote to a supervisor. The message, Brewer said, contained nothing ``that could be considered red flag.''
A DCF management review of the family's DCF history, completed last week, acknowledged that state caseworkers made a host of errors and concluded that their check of the Stephenson home last August ``lacked required investigative activities.''
Linked to- Amboy Times, Basil, Bright & Early, Cao, Jo, Morewhat, Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson, Third World County,