This Child Died in Foster Care

Gresham child died while in foster care
Neighbor says foster mom ‘is a good person’
By Mara Stine

The Gresham Outlook, Sep 5, 2006, Updated Sep 5, 2006

A pair of bright pink “Dora the Explorer” sandals sits next to the front door of a cheerfully painted duplex in Gresham’s Asert neighborhood.

It’s the foster home of a 2-year-old toddler who died of internal injuries Monday, Sept. 4. Police are treating her death as a homicide.

Officials from Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center called police at 3 p.m. to report the suspicious death of a child who lived at 245 S.E. Vista Ave., said Sgt. Teddi Anderson, Gresham police spokeswoman. Due to the toddler’s young age and unexplained cause of death, detectives from Multnomah County’s Child Abuse Team and Major Crimes Team are investigating.

The Department of Human Services, which oversees the Children, Adults and Families Division responsible for administering child protective services including foster care, also is investigating, said Patricia Feeny, spokeswoman.

Few details are being released due to the ongoing investigation. Police can’t comment on how or where the child was injured, whether she was dead when she arrived at the hospital, whether her body showed signs of abuse, whether the child had a history of being abused or who she was living with.

The toddler has siblings, but Feeny couldn’t comment on whether they were in the same foster home or if they had been removed. Feeny did say, “No children are in the home currently.”

Feeny also said it’s “extraordinarily rare” for children to be killed while in foster care. But when it does happen, “nothing prepares you for such a tragic loss,” she said.

Karen Rodregez, a mother of three who lives in the adjacent duplex, can hardly believe the little girl who played with her own children was killed.

“It’s shocking,” she said, standing outside her front door just steps from her neighbors’ door. “I just cried all night.’
The foster parents moved into the duplex about eight months ago from California with their two birth children. They also had two foster children – half-sisters, ages 2 and about 3, Rodregez said.

Both girls came from another foster home. Although the youngest girl still visited the former foster home, her older sister didn’t want to and preferred to remain at her new foster home, Rodregez said. The youngest girl, however, recently returned from a vacation with the previous foster parents, she added.

Rodregez said she doesn’t know what to think of the girl’s death or what caused it. She can’t imagine her neighbors being capable of hurting a child of any age.

“I hope it’s not her, I know she’s a good person,” she said of the child’s foster mother.

The foster mother sometimes baby sat Rodregez’s three boys, ages 7, 5, and 5 months, who loved playing with the girls next door.

“She always takes care of my kids very good,” Rodregez said, adding that her baby would smile when he’d see the woman next door.

Now, she worries that something may have happened to her own children.

“I ask them, ‘Did they ever hurt you, shake the baby?’ and they said no,” Rodregez said. But she’s careful not to ask too much for fear of scaring her children.

For now they just know that the little girl next door went to the hospital. There was an emergency.

“Maybe God took her with him,” she tells them.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You have a wonderful blog. Keep up the fantastic work.

    • Thank you Brenda.
      These victims can no longer speak for themselves, their families are still victims. We have to be their voice – the system is broken and it has to be fixed. These children were our future and now they are gone.

      • You’re very welcome. I have an anti-CPS and/or CPS reform blog. I realize it’s not everybody’s cup of tea but I would like to link your blog on mine if you wouldn’t mind. I am very concerned about children dying in foster care. Now with the Every Child Matters campaign going on, they’re only concentrating on bio parents when children are more likely to be abused and killed in foster care. However, I cannot seem to get anyone to listen to me on this issue. Your blog is great. I read it every single day! It is so relevant to my cause. I am an avid parental rights advocate, by the way.

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