BUFFALO, NY-- Two Erie County Child Protective Service caseworkers have been fired, and two supervisors suspended without pay in connection to the death of five-year-old Eain Brooks.
Erie County officials say the two caseworkers were fired Monday for allegedly mishandling the child abuse complaints against Matthew Kuzdzal, who is charged with killing Brooks.
Two other CPS employees have been suspended without pay. Erie County Department of Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer also reassigned the head of the CPS.
The Erie County Executive's Office released this statement:
"On Monday, October 7, Erie County Department of Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer informed County Executive Mark Poloncarz that as a result of the comprehensive internal audit of casework activity, four (4) Erie County Child Protective Services' employees have been disciplined. Two (2) of the persons were separated from service effective October 7 and two (2) others received suspensions without pay beginning Tuesday, October 8. In addition, also effective October 7, Commissioner Dankert-Maurer reassigned the leadership of Child Protective Services and Children's Services divisions within the Erie County Department of Social Services to better match the strengths of our leaders and address the needs of the community."
A communications specialist with the Civil Service Employees Association confirmed that the employees who were fired or suspended are members of CSEA.
The union released the following statement late Wednesday afternoon.
"Our prayers go out to the family of Eain Clayton Brooks, the young boy who
died following a beating reportedly at the hands of his mother's boyfriend.
His tragic death may have been prevented if staffing levels in the Child
Protective Services Depaftment had not been cut to the current levels.
It is a shame that all the blame has been placed on two Caseworkers and
their Supervisors, and not on the Commissioner and department
administrators. Former County Executive Chris Collins cut away at the
Department of Social Services, and his commissioner assisted in dismantling
the department. Now, the front-line workers are left taking the blame.
For years, caseworkers'vacancies have not been filled. Their caseloads are
excessively large and the employees are overworked. Nothing can bring this
young boy back, but the county must do what is right to ensure proper
staffing and reevaluate the process, so nothing like this ever happens again.
CSEA will be reviewing the case to determine the next appropriate step.
The boy's maternal grandmother, Robin Hart, who previously told 2 on Your Side family members had called CPS with their concerns on numerous occasions, declined to speak today, referring all calls to her lawyer.
"I am thankful that they investigated very swiftly and they started to get to the root of the problem," said Carolyn Baker, Eain's paternal great grandmother. "I just hope they continue to stay on the same course and don't just let the ball drop again. Nothing will ever bring Eain back, but we don't want this to ever happen to another child," Baker said.
"This is the beginning of accountability within child protective services and justice being served for the death of Eain Brooks that unfortunately we have found, seems to have been directly attributed to the lack of oversight from child protective services said NY State Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, who has met with Eain's family members. "The child protection agency failed Eain Brooks and because of that he's dead today," Kennedy told WGRZ-TV." Because of individuals being fired and suspended without pay and moved to other areas there is now some accountability and it's about time."
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2