LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The mother of two toddlers, who were found wandering on a South L.A. street last week, was under the direct supervision of Los Angeles County’s child protective services agency.
The two boys, ages 2 and 3, were found hungry and wearing dirty diapers. The children had walked into a liquor store, searching for a loaf of bread and at one point nearly crossed busy Manchester Boulevard until a passerby intervened.
Officials acknowledged this week that the children and their mother had been under the direct supervision of Los Angeles County’s child protective services agency.
“Based on what I know now, this did not work the way it should,” said Philip Browning, head of Los Angeles County Family And Child Services.
The Department of Children and Family Services had allowed 32-year-old Sidnicka Wilson to enter the program, called Family Maintenance, for relatively low-risk families, even though she had lost six older children to the foster care system and had a record of stealing and prostitution. When she was arrested, police say she had cocaine in her possession.
“What I’m being told is, as in most cases, we make an independent decision based on that child,” Browning said as to why Wilson was allowed to keep her two young toddlers when six older children had already been taken away from her.
Family Maintenance is meant to serve as a six-month intervention strategy for children at relatively low risk of abuse. It allows them to remain with their parents while their families are offered counseling, emergency shelter care, parent training, substance abuse testing and transportation.
Wilson would have had monthly visits with social workers and weekly visits with nonprofit agencies contracted by the county. The boys, who were found underfed and in soiled clothing, lived with their mother in a home described to be in deplorable conditions. Browning said he was likewise alarmed by that report.
“I agree, that’s a concern of mine. When I saw that report, I immediately asked for us to have an internal investigation,” he said.
So far, none of the social workers involved in this case have been pulled out of the field, but Browning says they are also under scrutiny and could face desk duty.
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