Child's death reveals concerns in foster care placement


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

Posted on October 22, 2013 at 6:25 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 23 at 2:59 PM

AUSTIN --  The death of an 11-month-old foster child is once again raising concerns over how children are placed. The Texas Department of Family Protective Services confirms, nine children in foster care died from abuse or neglect in the past 14 months. Another four deaths are under investigation.

Protective services says this is an alarming trend and one they are very concerned about.

Police say Jacob Salas pinned an eleven-month-old's head to the floor with his knee on Oct. 19.

It happened at her aunt's home on East Cypress Creek in Cedar Park after the state took her from her mom. Doctors couldn't save her. She later died from that trauma.

Salas is charged with injury to a child and could face a capital murder charge.

"It's actually very rare, statistically, that a foster child would be injured or killed while in care." Julie Moody with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said. "Believe it or not. I know it doesn't seem that way now."

Paramedics rushed two-year foster child Alexandria Hill to a hospital with severe head injuries in July. Her birth parents removed her from life support two days after she slipped into a coma. Her foster mom in Rockdale is blamed.

Moody says her agency is very concerned about these cases, but they have a lot of checks and balances in place.

"When someone applies to become a foster parent, it's not an easy process. It’s not something that happens overnight," said Moody.

In the Cedar Park case, Salas was not an approved care taker. The aunt claims she got a call to report to work and asked Salas to watch the child.

Protective services is now investigating Lutheran Social Services which placed the 11-month-old with her aunt.

"Lutheran is responsible to make sure that foster parents that they license are trained properly, have the correct criminal background checks, and then also they're there to support that foster family," said Moody.

To see the requirements for foster/ adoptive parents, click here.


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