DETROIT (WJBK) - Earlier this year, a toddler's body was found decomposing at an apartment in Detroit. His mother was later located at a hospital where she had gone for mental treatment. The tragic case lead to charges against two workers from Child Protective Services.
Now, another CPS worker is weighing in, saying the child's death isn't the fault of the colleagues. The CPS worker puts the blame on their working conditions - and some of those problems have been well documented. Others, not so much.
The CPS worker FOX 2 interviewed wished to remain anonymous, fearing retribution from higher ups.
"Instead of Kym Worthy going after CPS workers, she needs to check her list of people we have substantiated for abuse, neglect, rape, child death and start prosecuting those people," the CPS employee says.
This CPS worker has more than 20 years on the job, and is outraged after two colleagues were charged in the death of the boy, 3-year-old Aaron Minor.
The worker says their jobs, which are already tough, are made worse due to a lack of resources in Wayne County, understaffing and well-publicized problems with the state's child welfare information system called MiSACWIS.
"The system goes down, information is lost, information is placed in other cases," says the CPS worker.
"We are critically understaffed," the worker adds. "They can hire 40 people in one month and, by the time they get out of training school, it'll be about three people left."
The worker says this leads to an overload of cases.
"There are people that leave every day and we gain their caseload. So, we can have anywhere from 12 to 25. It depends."
According to the consent decree, CPS workers are not supposed to have more than 13 at any given time. The CPS worker also claims that, at times, police make it difficult enforce court orders to remove a child from a dangerous home.
"They'll go knock on the door. If the person chooses not to come to the door, and we know that the victim is in the home, they won't go in," the worker says. "They will do the bare minimum. You have some cops that will do their job, but for the most part the police are a barrier for us."
It is unclear how or if those issues played a role in the cases of Elaina Brown and Kelly Williams, the two CPS workers who have been charged in the boy's death.
Brown went to the apartment of Aaron and his mother, Deanna Minor, on April 21 and 22 after receiving a referral from the mother's mental health worker.
Brown took note not enough food was in the home, and contacted her supervisor, Williams. Brown sent a letter to the boy's mother May 9, asking her to contact CPS. She never did.
Police found the 3-year-old boy's decomposing body in his bed two weeks later. The Wayne County Prosecutor says, contrary to CPS policy, neither Brown nor Williams contacted DPS to perform a safety check nor filed a petition with juvenile court.
"I would have to say they would have to prove that in court," the CPS worker says. "Ms. Brown did everything within DHHS policy and followed proper protocol."
The Michigan Department of Public Health released a statement: "Given that these issues are being raised in the context of an ongoing criminal case, it would be inappropriate for us to respond to the specific issues. MDHHS Children's Services Agency employees do great work in protecting vulnerable children from abuse and neglect.
"They have difficult jobs and care deeply about children. Our two employees and all Americans are entitled to the presumption of innocence. Their actions were within the scope of their job responsibilities. MDHHS has made great progress in improving the state’s child welfare system, resulting in a judge’s approval earlier this year of a plan that provides a path toward Michigan exiting federal court oversight that began in 2008."
As for police and the child removal orders, Detroit police says their role is not to remove a child from a home but to provide security for the CPS worker that's doing it. DPD is not actually mandated to do that; they simply help out when they have the manpower do so, or when CPS coordinates with whatever precinct the court order falls in.