Failed to Death: A tale of two outcomes

2:27 PM, Nov 19, 2012   |    comments
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Such a practice was common in years past. Caseworkers would often take children out of homes and then ask questions later.

But times have changed, according to Reggie Bicha, Executive Director of the Colorado Human Services Department. Caseworkers are there to help and only remove children out of homes as a last resort, Bicha said.

"We created an environment by our very actions that oftentimes having parents become defensive, and causing them to not be honest and forthright with us," Bicha said. "And the end result was, you created more trauma."

"They think you are going to take the child away," child welfare caseworker Gwen Wooten told 9Wants to Know. "I'm the other piece that says, 'Hi! How are you doing? What can I do to help you?"

Decisions of parents can largely steer the outcome of cases.

9Wants to Know profiled two women who once saw caseworkers as obstacles but eventually accepted their help, which resulted in families staying together.

Danita Johnson was a full time mother and a part-time drug dealer. As a child, she spent time in juvenile lock-up and foster homes. At 17, she began having her own kids who were also eventually removed from her home.

"My worst day was hearing for the 1st time that my kids were taken, Johnson said. "In the beginning social services was the enemy. They were trying to tell me how to be a mom."

Eventually Johnson realized she could have more control of her family if she accepted help from caseworkers. "I had everybody's number, personal cell numbers," she said. "I was captain of this ship this time."

Krista Adams, a mother of six, who had children taken away because of a meth addiction, admitted she didn't cooperate with caseworkers in the beginning. Instead, she placed all of her trust into a former abusive ex-boyfriend.

"He was all that I had. I didn't have anywhere else to go," Adams said of her ex-boyfriend , Justin Michael Taylor. "So a lot of times I went back to him because of that."

Taylor and Adams had a baby together named Julian Lacas.

Taylor is currently serving a 48-year-prison sentence for killing Lacas as a result of fatal head injury. Taylor admitted he threw Lacas, who was six months old at the time, violently to ground.

Adams tells 9Wants to Know she kicked her meth habit and now works with caseworkers.

"I have six kids. I'm a single mom and I try to use my resources. They definitely can be a good resource," Adams said.

Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola? Call him at 303-871-1425 or e-mail him


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