Who is Watching the Watchers – Another Child in Foster Care Dies

Died February 22,2001

Foster mother charged with murdering boy
West Side woman whose foster child died Thursday after being submerged in a tub of freezing water was charged Saturday with first- degree murder.
Police say 29-year-old Flora Stewart punished 6-year-old Allen Kalfus for misbehaving by holding him under a shower of cold water, echoing a similar charge leveled against the mother last year.

Stewart, of the 4300 block of West 19th Street, told police she sent Allen to take a bath and heard him fall after about 45 minutes. Stewart said she found him unconscious in a T-shirt and underwear in the tub with a bump on the back of his head. Police said he also had a first-degree burn under his eye.

A 2-year-old foster child living with Stewart was removed by the Department of Children and Family Services. Two teenage nieces also were living with her.

Last May, Stewart was accused of forcing Allen to take cold showers, said Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy. DCFS investigated the charge, which the boy confirmed but then recanted, and DCFS said it was unfounded, Murphy said.

Two months later, South Central Community Services, the agency that placed the boy, decided Stewart wasn’t cooperating and said the boy should be removed. Stewart filed an appeal, and during mediation, she apologized and promised to try harder. Ultimately, the mediator, Stewart and South Central agreed to leave the child in the home, Murphy said.

Both Murphy and DCFS Director Jess McDonald say the system needs to change.

Foster child’s death ruled homicide

A West Side woman whose foster child died Thursday in a freezing bathtub had been allowed to keep the boy last year after she was cleared of an anonymous accusation that she forced him to take cold showers, officials said Friday.

The freezing death of 6-year-old Allen Kalfus was a homicide, the Cook County medical examiner ruled Friday. Chicago police were still investigating, and no charges had been filed Friday night, said officer Matthew Jackson.

A child welfare official said that last year the foster mother was accused in an anonymous tip of neglecting the boy. The call to the hotline of the Department of Children and Family Services said the foster mother, 30, was forcing Allen to take cold showers after he wet his pants, officials said.

The accusation was investigated and determined to be unfounded. But the agency that had placed the boy in the home recommended that he be removed because the foster mother wasn’t cooperating. After state-required mediation, the private and government agencies agreed to leave him in the home.

Allen Kalfus died of hypothermia Thursday at 4336 W. 19th St. The foster mother had called police, saying she found him unconscious and clothed in the tub.

Another foster child in the home, a boy of 2 or 3 years old, was removed by DCFS on Thursday and placed with another foster parent, said Andy Martinez, a spokesman for DCFS. Two teenagers have been placed with relatives.

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