Some DHS workers allowed to keep jobs after child deaths

Agency audit discovered ‘substantial violations,' blatant irresponsibility by child-welfare workers in three deaths
BY NOLAN CLAY, RANDY ELLIS AND ROBBY TRAMMELL Published: December 25, 2011
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DHS workers are not always fired over mistakes that contributed to children's deaths.

In 2008, a Craig County child-welfare specialist, Jamie L. Veysey, was suspended without pay for only five days after a 3-year-old boy died.

A supervisor, Debra L. Grace, was suspended without pay for 60 days.

A DHS audit after the death found “substantial violations” of DHS child-welfare policy.

DHS workers had returned the medically fragile boy to his mother from foster care in February 2007. The boy, Blake Ragsdale, died of natural causes less than a month later.

He was placed with his mother even though she did not have a job, a telephone or a car, records show. The mother had failed to take care of him properly a year before during a reunification attempt.

He was in foster care because he had tested positive for methamphetamine at birth.

DHS found the workers failed to notify a judge the boy was being reunited with his mother, failed to make a safety assessment of the mother's home beforehand and failed to put any services into place to help the mother with the boy's care.

DHS found Veysey failed to check on the boy enough times after the reunification. DHS also found both did not notify the proper DHS authorities of the death.

Veysey resigned in 2010, records show. Grace no longer handles child-welfare cases, a DHS spokeswoman said.

Beaten to death

A Beckham County child-welfare specialist, Liberty Michelle Carter, was suspended for 15 days without pay in 2009 after a young boy, Ryan Weeks, was beaten to death. Carter was disciplined for her “action/inaction” in the case.

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