‘It is tragic beyond description:’ Gov. looking for answers after DCFS drops ball in 2-year-old boy’s overdose
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards responded to the failures of one of his most trusted state agencies on Thursday, August 4, after the suspected overdose death of 2-year-old Mitchell Robinson.
Governor Edwards said change is on the way when it comes to policies and procedures at the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) following the toddler’s death.
The Inspector General’s Office has already launched an investigation into the agency’s handling of this case.
Meanwhile, the governor is looking for accountability as well, but said he has full confidence in the agency’s leadership to correct their mistakes.
“It is tragic beyond description. The words fail me for how tragic that situation was,” said Governor Edwards.
“This is not how our children should be treated. And it’s certainly a horrific situation,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
Robinson died back on June 26 of this year. But before his death, investigators said he was taken to the emergency room two different times for a suspected overdose.
In both cases, sources tell WAFB doctors alerted DCFS and even confirmed they found fentanyl in the boy’s system.
“For me, the biggest tragedy is what happened. The biggest responsibility I have is to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Edwards.
In a separate case, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested the boy’s parents Whitney Ard and Mitchell Robinson Sr. in May for a huge haul of drugs, that were allegedly being bought and sold right out of the home the boy was living in.
Ard later bonded out, and not long after the child was dead.
“The idea that a 2-year-old would die from an overdose. Whatever we have to do to make sure that the policies, the procedures, the training, the supervision, everything is in place, we’re going to make sure we double down and make sure that happens,” said Gov. Edwards.
But now the question still lingers as to what exactly went wrong, and why the child was not removed from the home sooner.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office said they were never told about the previous overdoses, even after doctors reported it to DCFS.
“We’re going to see exactly what went wrong, and what was known or should have known and acted upon or not. And we will then obviously take every action possible to make sure that something like this never happens again,” said Gov. Edwards.
In a statement DCFS Secretary Walters released on Wednesday, August 3, it said the department has already made changes:
“When we learned of the tragedy involving this child, we immediately began a comprehensive review of this case and all circumstances surrounding it. The Department has already taken numerous steps to make changes that range from policy changes to personnel actions. The review is ongoing. We are also working with the Office of Inspector General to review every step of this case and will not be able to comment further,” said DCFS Secretary Walters.
However, the governor did not shy away from how big of a mistake that has been made by the agency.
“Obviously, nobody ever wants anything like this to happen. Not so much because you’re worried about a black mark on the agency, you just don’t want these things to happen period. Because we had a very unfortunate incident where a young person, a 2-year-old’s life was lost. And it was senseless,” said Gov. Edwards.
Edwards said they will follow the Inspector General’s report closely, and they will make any changes warranted within DCFS once more facts come out.
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