Los Angeles DCFS Rocked by Another Child Death

Another child who was left in his mother’s care by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services has died of an apparent homicide.

Two-year-old Josue-Rey Maldonado was pronounced dead on August 10 after being rushed to a Long Beach hospital. Just prior, DCFS had launched an investigation into possible parental neglect, but returned the boy to his mother while she underwent court-ordered treatment to improve her parenting skills.

While the coroner has not yet ruled the death a homicide, a DCFS report indicates that it’s a strong possibility, noting signs of physical abuse on the toddler’s body. Neighbors have said they saw the boy with bruises and suspected he was being abused by his mother and her boyfriend

DCFS is still reeling from the 2013 beating death of eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, who was also left in his mother’s care despite repeated allegations of abuse. Fernandez’s killing prompted the formation of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, which concluded that the county’s system was in a dire “state of emergency” and recommended a series of reforms.

Overall progress on DCFS reform has been slow, due in part to disagreements among county supervisors. In June, the board agreed to establish a new, independent office headed by a “child protection czar” as recommended by the commission, but even the search for the right director has been plagued by numerous delays.

Read more about the latest death investigation and attempts to reform DCFS here.