Who Will Answer for this Murder???? Certainly Not CPS where the Blame Really belongs

Another victim of CPS

Died September 4, 2006

“I don’t want them [CPS] in my house.” -“I don’t want them near my other son.”

Parents Blame CPS For Toddler’s Death

Jessica and Ray Nieto cried Monday morning outside a Denton County courtroom, where Child Protective Services was fighting to take back their only surviving son.

“I don’t want them [CPS] in my house,” sobbed Jessica. “I don’t want them near my other son.”

The Neitos are grieving because their baby, Christian, was killed on Labor Day in foster care. Corsicana detectives say Beverly Latimer beat the 16-month-old to death. She’s now charged with capital murder.

The foster mother had been hired by Mesa Family Services to care for children in CPS custody.

CPS supervisor Teresa Morrow avoided FOX 4’s questions about Christian’s death, and Latimer as a foster mother. /

The Nietos say Morrow told them something else.

“She told us they had no idea where they [foster children] go,” said Ray Nieto. “It’s up to Mesa , it’s a contract.”

The Nietos are still angry at CPS for calling them instead of telling them in person that their baby was dead.

“They let us know we can visit our child in the Dallas County Morgue,” said Jessica.

A CPS spokeswoman says Aleda Oaks, the CPS caseworker on the Nieto case, has only two years experience on the job. She didn’t show up at work Monday morning.

But the family of the dead child says Oaks and her supervisor admitted they never did their own background check on Latimer.

CPS says they have no idea why Mesa Family Services kept giving Latimer foster children, because since last year, she had been accused three times of abusing kids in her care.

CPS is now reviewing their employees work on the case, and they’ve suspended Mesa Family Services from placing any foster children.

CPS took the Nietos’ children because they admitted they had smoked marijuana, but they were on the verge of getting them back.

“I want something done to change the system,” said Jessica, “because obviously, our son isn’t the only one who has died in their custody.”

Monday, a judge allowed the Nietos to keep their 3-year-old son while CPS figures out what to do next.

Foster Mother Indicted for Capital Murder

Corsicana, TX – In Navarro County, a Grand Jury indicted Beverly Latimer, 53, on charges of capitol murder of a child under the age of 6 on Oct 26th.

The child, Christian Nieto, was a foster child in her custody who died on September 4th at her home in Corsicana. His death was due to head injuries. He was 16 months old.

Bond was set at $750,000.

Christian and his 3-year-old brother, Logan, were entrusted to an agency that had a lengthy recent history of placing children in dangerous or deadly foster homes. At least one child had previously died in their custody. They were removed from their parents for drug addiction.

The agency shuffled the boys through five foster homes in 7 months. The last move killed Christian.

The papers state that she may have just been overburdened, which left her unable to save him. She’s being charged with a capital crime, however, his murder.

Beverly Latimer still sits in Navarro County jail. She was licensed through Mesa Family Services. Mesa is now on state probation and licensing officials have suspended placements. The state has moved to revoke their license.

The case spotlights the failures in the foster care system that occur when parties don’t do their part for the protection of children. In this case, a child had to die for them to pay attention, as so often happens. The murder of children in care is often the spark that foster care reform needed before the child was placed in harm’s way.

Problems with the system in Texas, as reported, are many and varied. Not enough foster contractors, too much privatization in foster care, more removals and a shortage of foster homes, and serious questions about the licensing process for foster contractors and potential foster parents. Many states repeatedly cite similar problems in the wake of a child’s death. Reforms rarely work the way we would hope.

As for Christian’s brother, Logan, he is back with his natural parents.
By Liz Copeland

Tot’s foster care death stuns legislator

She wants review of state plan to put kids in hands of private firms
12:17 AM CST on Wednesday, November 15, 2006

AUSTIN – A key lawmaker says she was horrified to read of the death of a 16-month-old boy in a Corsicana foster home and now is thinking twice about the state’s mandate for full privatization of foster care, adoption and management of abused children’s cases within five years.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, said she now favors a more cautious approach after reading a Dallas Morning News account of Christian Nieto’s death. She said she might recommend that the state throttle back its plan and go with a pilot project instead.

“We continue to hear about child abuse and just horrible deaths in foster care,” Ms. Nelson, R-Lewisville, said at a hearing to discuss progress under a protective services overhaul bill passed last year.

Referring to The News’ account of how young Christian and his older brother disappeared in the state’s foster system, with Christian ending up dead, Ms. Nelson said:

“Quite frankly, when I read that, it just, it kills me. I see so many times that we should have done something. That child’s death is at the bottom of a spiral. And up here, parents who were abusing drugs. I would like for us to head off the problem way up here instead of waiting until we’ve just missed opportunities to protect that child all the way down to, you know, the last opportunity – and the child’s not with us.”

Ms. Nelson asked Carey Cockerell, commissioner of the state Department of Family and Protective Services, “What went wrong in the instance … and what else do we need to do to prevent this?”

Mr. Cockerell said Christian’s death was sobering, and the state still is reviewing what went wrong.

“Any time there is an instance of abuse, it touches the very core of who we are and what we are about,” said Mr. Cockerell, a former Fort Worth juvenile justice official who was tapped by Gov. Rick Perry’s administration two years ago to clean up the troubled Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services agencies.

‘What we’ve done’
“It calls on us to examine what we’ve done, everything that we’re doing and everything that we can do as we move forward,” he said. “And we are certainly in the process of doing that, as we have done in every case of abuse and neglect tragedies such as this one.”

Ms. Nelson did not go into specifics on how she would change the law ordering privatization. Lawmakers, who meet starting in January, would have to approve any change.

Mr. Cockerell said his agency is still reviewing its regulation of Mesa Family Services, the child-placement agency that shipped Christian and his brother, Logan, from Dallas to the Corsicana home of Beverly Latimer on Aug. 30.

Christian, 16 months old, died of severe head injuries five days later.

Foster mother charged
Ms. Latimer, 53, has been charged with capital murder, although there are indications the child might have been injured before he arrived at the woman’s home.

Ms. Latimer, beset by health and financial problems, already was caring for three foster girls under age 5 when she says Mesa officials pressed her also to take in the Nieto brothers. They had been removed from drug-abusing parents in Denton in January.

The state has acknowledged it relies heavily on private child-placing agencies to report their actions and rule violations to the state.

Officials also say Mesa Family Services informed them of only two of the five foster homes where the company placed the Nieto boys from Jan. 27 to Labor Day.

Christian was at least the second child to die from neglect while in a Mesa-run foster home. Sierra Odom, 3, died while living in an Arlington foster home in August 2005.

In reviewing his department’s enforcement actions against Mesa, Mr. Cockerell told the Senate panel Tuesday that the department halted placements of more children with Mesa Family Services after Sierra’s death.

“In some instances about a year ago, we suspended placements,” Mr. Cockerell told Ms. Nelson. “We put them on corrective actions. We moved the monitoring plan down to the most rigorous monitoring plan that we had. We continued to do a fairly robust system of monitoring them and identifying deficiencies and asking them to correct those and move forward.”

Suspension now denied
Questioned later by a reporter, Mr. Cockerell said he had misspoken.

“We did not suspend [placements] after the first death,” he said.

The licensing division’s report on its investigation of Sierra’s death found foster father Timothy R. Warner responsible. Mr. Warner still is awaiting trial in the case.

“Our investigation did not find deficiencies for which Mesa Family Services was specifically responsible,” program specialist Arthur Bussey wrote to Mesa on Oct. 21, 2005.

Mr. Bussey said this even while attaching a list of deficiencies that mentioned a nighttime child-care service being run by Mr. Warner and his wife, which could have conflicted with being a dutiful foster parent. Another violation said Mr. Warner was unfit.

Ms. Nelson said she was relieved to hear that Mesa has relinquished its $7 million state contract for placing abused children in foster homes, and the state has moved to revoke the company’s license. Mr. Cockerell said the revocation would last five years.

He said Mesa’s 350 foster children and 160 foster homes have been transferred to other placing agencies’ supervision.

Patrick Crimmins, the department spokesman, said 140 of the former Mesa homes have been assigned to Therapeutic Family Life, an Austin-based nonprofit with Dallas operations.

New standards Jan. 1
Mr. Cockerell said newly revised standards for child-placing agencies take effect Jan. 1. They will require the firms to hire more staff to oversee foster parents and, in some circumstances, reduce the number of children a foster parent may care for. He also said his licensing division will place “weights” on violations so that serious ones lead to more intensive scrutiny, while mere paperwork lapses do not.

Representatives of placement agencies said the state should move forward with its privatization plan. The plan calls for measuring performance, and whether children spend less time in fewer foster homes. If so, the agencies would be rewarded financially. If not, they’d be punished.

But Ms. Nelson said a pilot project, to test proponents’ contentions, might be in order.

“We need to make sure that we move very slowly until we’re sure that the protections are in place,” Ms. Nelson said. “I don’t object to privatizing … It’s just we’re talking about kids. You can’t afford to lose a kid.”


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sweetie,

    I had to post this one on my blog too!!! If you want me to take it down, I will but this is so well-written and I want the world to know what happened. I am also giving a link directly back to yours. You told me before it’s okay so I’m taking it at your word!!! Great job!!!!

  2. Bev. Latimar is a innocent woman accuse of crime she didnt do. She didnt have a fair trial at all. The case need to be reopen.

  3. Because I know this woman from Corsicana I do not believe she did this at all. That baby came with those injuries and the couple before her testified of that.

  4. I neeed help my children were taking from me not for abuse but are now being abused please someone contact me something need’s to be done before it’s to late for my children.9896217921

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