What Happens to the Child of an Inmate? - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

What Happens to the Child of an Inmate?

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Officials say parents are arrested leaving their children behind everyday. So we wanted to talk to officials about what policies or procedures are in place to better protect kids. A recent tragedy left a mother and family without their baby girl. That sparked questions about what happens to a child when the parent is locked up in jail and can no longer care for them and how do we know those kids are safe. Debbie Muskelly lost her 3 year old baby Rizcheir, or ReRe, when police say the child's caregiver beat the ReRe to death. Muskelly, ReRe's mother, was in jail at the time. "I just know that God's got her. She was too perfect. (emotional pause) She was too perfect for this world and that's why she couldn't stay."

Trey Williams with the Department of Children and Family Services says his agency must be notified of a threat to a child before getting involved. "The only time we become involved with the family is when there is allegations of abuse or neglect."

Family law attorney Mark Frederick says when a parent is arrested that mother of father still can make decisions about the child's welfare. "The parent since they have not been deprived of their rights to the child or lost rights to the child by court hearing can say it's okay to leave the child with this person who is a responsible adult. As long as they are not immediately appearing to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol most police agencies are going to say, yes, that's okay. If the child is in need of care and there's no one there to care for the child then the child becomes a ward of the state." Williams offered, "We would then go in and conduct an investigation, we would look for a family member and if we couldn't find a family member then that child would be placed into foster care."

DCFS said they must be alerted to any possibility of a threat to a child before getting involved and conducting an investigation into a child's welfare. They couldn't comment specifically about the Muskelly case except to say that if you ever suspect that a child might be in danger, please call DCFS immediately. You can call the DCFS 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1.855.48.LA.KIDS.


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