Death puts focus on CPS

Child Protective Services had warnings before girl, 12, starved to death.

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2007 - 9:03 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 - 8:23 am

As 12-year-old Daelynn Foreman slowly dwindled to 23 pounds and starved to death, Child Protective Services agents were warned at least twice that the Orangevale girl was not being properly cared for, court records show.

Despite that, the girl -- who dropped from 60 pounds at age 9 to 46 pounds at 10 and finally to half that -- remained in the care of her 33-year-old mother, Brandy Foreman, until the girl died last July 31.

Over the last 15 months of her life, there were indications that Daelynn, who had cerebral palsy, was not receiving medical care and was dangerously thin, court records show, but child protection officials took little action to save her.

"Bed sores on her pelvis reached all the way to the bones, which were exposed through several open holes in the skin," court documents describing her condition at the time of death state.

"One hole with exposed bone was about 1 inch wide."

Daelynn's mother was arrested Saturday and charged with homicide, neglect and methamphetamine sales and has her next scheduled court appearance today.

She has yet to enter a plea.

Linda Parisi, Foreman's public defender, said Foreman faced a complex caregiving job.

"These issues are part of the entire constellation of the physical and psychological issues that a caregiver is dealing with, as opposed to deliberate conduct on the part of a caregiver," Parisi said.

Sacramento County Child Protective Services officials will not comment on the case, saying confidentiality laws prevent them even from discussing whether they had opened a file on Daelynn.

However, since her death the agency has reviewed its policies related to medically fragile children, said Lynn Frank, director of the county's Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees CPS.

"I can truthfully say I'm crushed and heartbroken about what this poor child had to endure," Frank said.

A member of the county's child death review team who is familiar with Daelynn's case said more action should have been taken.

"This could have been prevented; this child did not have to die," said Sheila Anderson, who also is president of Sacramento's Child Abuse Prevention Council.

"There were many instances when this could have gone another way."

In seeking a warrant to arrest Foreman, Sacramento County Sheriff's Detective Brian Shortz detailed efforts to help Daelynn that fell tragically short.

The first indication that Brandy Foreman resisted caring for her daughter came in April 2005, when CPS demanded that she take the girl to a doctor or the agency would take unspecified action against her, Shortz's warrant request states.

Foreman complied, and during the appointment the doctor urged her to take Daelynn to her pediatrician and other specialists.

At the time, Daelynn was 10 and weighed 46 pounds, 14 pounds less than she had been a year earlier during a previous doctor's visit.

The April 2005 appointment was the last time Daelynn was seen by a doctor, despite the fact that her pediatrician called Foreman asking to see the girl about six times over the next six months, court documents state.

A short time after that, Foreman stopped sending her daughter to school at the Ralph Richardson Center in Carmichael, which educates severely disabled children.

Foreman did that without seeking the required medical release or doctor's visit, the documents state.

That fall, an in-home teacher from the school, Cherie Bates, began visiting Daelynn twice per week.

In April 2006, Bates noticed Daelynn getting thinner and mentioned it to Foreman, then reported her concerns to CPS, the documents state.

In June, Bates again urged Foreman to take Daelynn to a doctor, and Foreman told Bates that she would do so the next day. But no record of such a visit exists, court records say.

The girl died 40 days later.

From June until Daelynn's death, Foreman either cancelled Bates' visits or left her waiting at a locked gate.

On July 31, paramedics found Daelynn dead in her rented Orangevale duplex.

Foreman said Daelynn ate nothing, but drank nutritional supplements in the three days preceding her death, documents show.

Within 48 hours of when a child dies of suspected abuse or neglect, CPS is required to send a report to the state Department of Social Services detailing the agency's involvement with the family and findings about neglect.

CPS filed the report, but neither that agency or the state would release it this week.

Instead, state officials said Thursday that CPS did not provide enough evidence for them to rule that substantiated abuse or neglect occurred in Daelynn's death.

"We're not saying this is not a case of abuse or neglect," said Shirley Washington, spokeswoman for the social services department.

"But based on information (provided by the county), it does not qualify as a case of substantiated abuse or neglect."

Frank, who oversees CPS, said she did not know how the state arrived at that decision.

The case was on hold for seven months as sheriff's officials awaited the coroner's conclusion -- which essentially said Daelynn starved to death.

They arrested Foreman Saturday.

That day proved to be a dramatic one in Foreman's neighborhood near Hazel Avenue and Greenback Lane.

When sheriff's deputies arrived, a man dived off Foreman's second-floor balcony to a garage roof and ran from police.

Deputies caught Eric M. Parker, 36, and arrested him on suspicion of possession of marijuana and methamphetamine for sale, as well as on a parole violation.

Neighbors said Foreman's half of a Sherry Drive duplex had round-the-clock visitors who stayed for five minutes.

Neighbor Michelle Talkington, who has a 13-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy, chides herself in part for Daelynn's death.

"If all of us were friends and involved, this wouldn't have happened," Talkington said, gesturing at her neighbors' home on the middle-class block.

"We don't know (Foreman). But at the same time, we should have."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Christina Jewett



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