Questions Raised About Foster Family Vetting in Baby Ayana’s Case

Questions Raised About Foster Family Vetting in Baby Ayana’s Case

Since baby Ayana’s death, there have been many questions surrounding her placement with the Plett family. The infant was placed in their care in September after being taken away from her biological mother. But was the family vetted before Ayana and her sister arrived in Spanish Lookout? Director of Human Services Shawn Vargas says they were and touched on how the couple was able to foster the two minors. 

Shawn Vargas, Director, Department of Human Services: “The vetting process is a process that I like to tell those at the office it’s a very invasive. There are several levels because the foster family falls in terms of our final placement options and so we look at the work that they do and how they are referred to the department. In this case the Plett family we did not seek them out they were referred to us by other foster families in Spanish Lookout and based on the recommendations we received including from their church pastor and other close family friends we went through that process with them. We did the home study as we have to make a home visit. We did the home study, we did the interviews, the police check, the background check for child protection and neglect that we have on our system and everything showed up clear. There was no indication to tell us that this is going to happen. So based on all those checks we went ahead and placed with them in September. The application came to the department in June and we placed in September.”

Vargas also responded to claims by Ayana’s biological mother, who said that there were signs the toddler was being abused. 

Shawn Vargas, Director, Department of Human Services: “There was no sign sir and I can tell you with this placement because its a short term placement spot checks are done regularly and our system is recording a spot check every month and all the checks there were no signs, no scratches on the body nothing to that effect and the children or the visitation in Belmopan at the main office and if there was anything for us to be worried about during that time the social workers would have picked that up during the transportation of the siblings from the Plett family to the office in Belmopan because that is how we work. We don’t do family visits at a foster family’s home, it’s done at the main office whether it is whichever district. Well we are – the department continuum of care looks at family first and where there is no family then we go into foster placement. So the family is trying to look at in terms of other family members who are willing to assist but it’s not just that you’re willing to assist there are several criteria that you have to reach, you have to meet according to the standards that we have before we place a child in your care. So that is what we’re working with the family on. From again I must share our condolences with the Moody family. We know it’s a difficult time and for us at the department it’s really difficult I’m not going to hide away from that it’s really difficult.”

Vargas added that the social workers who dealt with Ayana’s case are also deeply saddened by her passing.

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