As tragic as this
death is, perhaps it will open the eyes of the officials in
Pennsylvania to finally listen and do something about children dying
in state care. In December 2005 and then again in February 2006, two
boys, James White and Giovanni "Joey" Aletriz, died at SummitQuest
facility in Ephrata, PA. Estelle Richman said of Joey's death, "If
staff had followed policy and procedure Joey would still be alive."
She knew something was critically wrong. She knew two boys had died
in the same facility. I personally wrote Ms. Richman a letter on May
23, 2006, over five months ago regarding these deaths (click
here for letter), requesting a response. I have never to
date heard back from Ms. Richman. We are astounded that SummitQuest
is still in operation today and no staff member has been held
accountable for either death.
This little girl,
Danieal Kelly, died a horrible and unthinkable death. Her death
occurred on August 4, 2006. Months after the deaths of James and
Joey. It is difficult to understand how this could have happened
"right under the noses of her caretakers". Undoubtedly they knew she
was very sick and needed medical attention.
Yet she was bedridden,
infested with maggots, and nearly paralyzed with cerebral palsy. She
died in extreme heat, dehydrated, weighing just 46 pounds when she
died. She wasted away in bed with bedsores, under the nose of the
city's social service agency, according to an October 25, 2006,
MSNBC article, 14-year-old Pa. girl died of dehydration; workers
failed to notice neglect.
She died nine days
after the last scheduled visit by a company that was hired to help
care for her.
The case was a key factor in Mayor John F. Street’s decision
last week to force the resignation of Human Services
Commissioner Cheryl Ransom-Garner and the termination of her
deputy, John McGee, city officials told the newspaper. Their
removal is amid questions as to why the city agency received
passing grades while child-abuse deaths were increasing.
Finally, State Welfare
Secretary Estelle Richman said she demoted the
Southeastern Pennsylvania regional director after
deciding that her agency, the Department of Public
Welfare, had not properly monitored Philadelphia's
Department of Human Services. "There hasn't been
any oversight on the state's part," she said
yesterday. Richman said she
was recently startled to learn that DPW wasn't
performing its own reviews of child deaths in
Philadelphia. She said she had assumed they were
being done. "There have been no
death reviews done in this region in the past few
years, and it's my policy to do them," said Richman,
who was Philadelphia's managing director before she
became welfare chief in 2003.