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Senator Wants Investigation Into CPS Following Death of 5-Year-Old

9:46 PM, Sep 21, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY--  New York State Senator Tim Kennedy (D) is calling for an investigation into Child Protective Services following the death of five-year-old Eain Brooks.

Buffalo Police say the child died as a result of blunt force trauma to his head.  Eain's mother's boyfriend, Matthew Kuzdza, has been charged with second degree murder in his death.

Family members claim they reported abuse on several occasions to Child Protective Services.

On Friday, the father of Eain spoke to Two On Your Side's Claudine Ewing. Kyle Charette said he called child protective services several times for help.

"Child protective services could've stepped in," said Charette. "Take him for a couple of days, we'll do an investigation, they did nothing whatsoever."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told Two On Your Side the county has launched an investigation into how the county's Child Protective Services handle the case. Poloncarz stated none of the employees in the department were fired following the county's internal investigation into how CPS handled the case of Abdifatah Mohamud. The ten year old boy was beaten to death by his stepfather in 2012.  A spokesman for the county later clarified that five CPS employees were dismissed after that case. But when asked specifically if those dismissed employees were directly tied or involved with the Abdifatah case, he said no.

Poloncarz also said he has a proposal with the county legislature to re-organize the County Department of Social Services with the hiring of a new seven member CPS team and three DSS managers. The County Executive says that should help lessen the workload for a caseworker who handles about 200 cases on average.

A spokeswoman for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, which has oversight for County CPS units, says they will do a complete "fatality report" in this case to look into the CPS actions. It is required in such cases. That state agency severely criticized the Erie County CPS in a survey of such cases folowing the Mohamud death.   

"When tasked with the supremely important mission of protecting New York's youngest and most vulnerable citizens, it is essential that we constantly reevaluate our procedures and practices, always remain willing to innovate and continually look for new ways to keep children safe," Kennedy writes in his letter to OCFS. "If you find that legislation is necessary to improve our statewide systems for child protective services, I can assure you that I will serve as an ally in the State Legislature and stand with you and Governor Cuomo to enact any needed reforms to better protect children."

Kennedy sent a letter to OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrión, citing several murders involving children in WNY.

"In Western New York," Kennedy writes, "10-year-old Abdifatah Mohamud, three-year-old Gage Seneca, one-year-old Austin Smith and now five-year-old Eain Clayton Brooks were brutally beaten and murdered by individuals entrusted with their care. The circumstances surrounding each of their deaths are different, but together, the loss of these children call into question whether or not our state and county are meeting their obligations to protect our children. I urge you to conduct a full-scale investigation into the events surrounding Eain's tragic death, with a specific focus on whether or not Erie County and New York State did everything within their powers to protect this little boy."

You can read Senator Kennedy's Letter to Carrion below: 

September 20, 2013



Commissioner Gladys Carrión

New York State Office of Children and Family Services

Capital View Office Park

52 Washington Street

Rensselaer, NY 12144


Dear Commissioner Carrión:


This week, our community was shaken by the tragic death of five-year-old Eain Clayton Brooks, who was taken from this world far too soon, killed at the hands of someone whom he should have been able to trust. His mother's boyfriend Matthew Kuzdzal violently attacked the little boy and beat him to death. Across Western New York, hearts broke at the news of his vicious murder. I cannot imagine the unbearable pain his family has endured since they lost little Eain.


As the father of three children, I was deeply saddened by Eain's death, and I was outraged that the system had failed to protect this child. The boy's grandmother reported that she had asked Erie County's Child Protective Services, on several occasions, to take action to rescue Eian from the unthinkable abuse he was suffering.


This is an intolerable tragedy, and we must do all we can to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. Unfortunately, we've all spoken that exact sentence far too many times to fully accept that the state and county have truly done everything that could be done to protect our children and prevent senseless tragedies like this from occurring.


In recent months, in Western New York alone, 10-year-old Abdifatah Mohamud, three-year-old Gage Seneca, one-year-old Austin Smith and now five-year-old Eain Clayton Brooks were brutally beaten and murdered by individuals entrusted with their care. The circumstances surrounding each of their deaths are different, but together, the loss of these children call into question whether or not our state and county are meeting their obligations to protect our children.


I urge you to conduct a full-scale investigation into the events surrounding Eain's tragic death, with a specific focus on whether or not Erie County and New York State did everything within their powers to protect this little boy. According to local media reports, several complaints were made to CPS regarding potential abuse, but CPS reportedly declared those complaints unfounded, despite multiple accounts of the boy showing signs of abuse, like bruising. I understand your office completed an investigation into the protective services provided in Erie County and issued recommendations following the murder of Abdifatah Mohamud. It appears necessary for the state to follow up on this previous study, ensure the initial recommendations have been fully implemented and probe deeper to identify if further reforms are needed in Erie County.


In addition, I believe it is critically important that you launch a comprehensive, far-reaching study into New York State's entire system of child protective services. This study should dig deep into the functions of the local CPS agencies in Western New York and across the state, and it should review the practices of the state's protective services and its interactions with county agencies. When tasked with the supremely important mission of protecting New York's youngest and most vulnerable citizens, it is essential that we constantly reevaluate our procedures and practices, always remain willing to innovate and continually look for new ways to keep children safe. If you find that legislation is necessary to improve our statewide systems for child protective services, I can assure you that I will serve as an ally in the State Legislature and stand with you and Governor Cuomo to enact any needed reforms to better protect children.


Thank you for your time and consideration of this vitally important matter. Clearly, urgent action is needed to shield New York's children from violent abuse. If you have any questions, or if you would like to discuss this request further, please feel free to contact me in my district office at 716-826-2683. I would be happy to provide help or support as needed.


Sincerely,



Timothy M. Kennedy

New York State Senator, 63rd District

 

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