Mississippi Child Protective Services is under fire after a baby girl, Alyssa Kirk, died while under investigation for neglect. In early May, the baby girl was found lying on the floor, unresponsive, by her grandfather. He placed a call to 911, but Alyssa could not be saved. It has just recently been revealed that Alyssa’s death was caused by malnutrition and dehydration. The 10-month-old baby girl starved to death on May 4.
Less than three weeks earlier, on April 17, CPS received a report claiming Alyssa was being neglected by her father. To be fair, two other adults, the baby girl’s grandparents, lived in the home, as well as two siblings. Does it seem odd that, with three “responsible” adults in the house, not one of them took it upon themselves to feed the baby girl? The state of the older children, ages 2 and 5, have not been revealed. However, it is natural to assume they were likely not in the best health, either. Both have since been placed in foster care.
According to the Sun Herald, Child Protective Services Director David Chandler had a lukewarm response to the baby girl’s death.
“Our employee did not indicate the child was as malnourished as she actually was. We are ready to assume any responsibility the agency may have for not protecting that child.”
While this statement may (or may not) look good on paper, it certainly does not benefit Alyssa Kirk in any way, shape, or form. This baby girl had the chance to be saved, and that chance was lost to her.
News Medical reports the symptoms of starvation in children include the following: irritability, sluggishness, and excessive crying; growth failure; dry, flaky skin; and swelling of the abdomen and legs.
The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services has responded to the sad news of Alyssa Kirk’s passing. Tonya Rogillio, director of special investigations, says the case was still under the general 25-day window in which an investigation is ongoing.
“Typically our policy allows 25 days to complete a child abuse or neglect investigation, so it was still within the 25-day investigatory period for the report that came in on April 17 when the child died on May 4.”
Paul Kirk, father of the baby girl, was distraught when he learned of Alyssa’s condition, and fled the apartment. He was later found hanging in a nearby stairwell. He did not survive.
Rogillio continues on to say no criminal charges have been, or likely will be, filed in the death of the baby girl, since her father had also died.
“…any speculation as to why the child was malnourished would be just that: speculation.”
David Chandler’s response seems to be stressing to employees the importance of making each call urgent, as if “it is a matter of life and death.”
“What we must do a better job of is making sure that every employee who goes out to a home to determine whether the children are safe, every employee, must treat it with urgency, and must be well trained, and must be diligent in their jobs.
“We want every call to be treated as though it is a matter of life and death, because it may be. There’s no such thing as a routine call for us. Every call is urgent. Every call must receive prompt attention, and it must be diligently investigated, and every detail reported to the supervisors.”
If child abuse were a disease, we’d see urgent action. Our culture must change | Sue Berelowitz https://t.co/JIcIoSWL58
— The Guardian (@guardian) August 7, 2016
What do you think of the way CPS handled the neglect of Alyssa Kirk? Could this baby girl have been saved?
[Image via Shutterstock]