Tuesday, March 20, 2007

'The system failed this little girl'

Where is our Governor’s outrage? Why is he not demanding answers?

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

There were plenty of chances to save blond, 10-year-old Michaela Watkins. Grieving relatives said yesterday that social workers and police had visited the home to investigate complaints against her father and stepmother, Patrick and Joy Watkins, now charged with criminal abuse in her death.

They and an advocate for Kentucky children say the Watkinses should never have gotten custody of Michaela to begin with. Michaela was found dead at her Winchester apartment Sunday afternoon. Witnesses told police that she had been dead for at least 45 minutes before emergency workers were called, court records show. "The system failed this little girl," said Michaela's grandmother by marriage, Audrey Stokley, who said she had complained to social workers about Patrick Watkins. "They should have checked closer to see what we were talking about instead of saying, 'Well, it's fine.'"

Cabinet for Health and Family Services officials said yesterday they are launching an internal investigation into the case, as is customary when a child dies while being monitored by state social workers. The Cabinet decides case by case whether to release details about what led up to a child's death. But Cabinet Undersecretary Tom Emberton Jr. said he would not release details about the cabinet's contact with Michaela because of the police investigation and in an effort to protect the confidentiality of her three siblings, who have been removed from the home.

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