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Boy dies in foster care group home, injury may be to blame

Police officers in Baltimore, Maryland, are assuming responsibility for an investigation into the death of a foster child at a group home, alleging that the child's demise may have been related to previous abuse. The 10-year-old died at the group home, where he had been living for some time after suffering a traumatic brain injury as a youth. The boy's grandmother said she had been attempting to gain custody of the child, but he was sent to foster care because of allegations of abuse against his mother.

Official reports show that the child was one of several disabled children who resided at a group home that was operated by Life Line in Laurel, Maryland. That home was in the process of being decommissioned after inspections revealed issues with the standard of care being provided to the residents. The children who were still housed in that facility have since been moved. The boy died on July 2.

It is still unclear whether the boy's initial brain injury -- suffered when he was 3 years old -- was to blame for his death, or if actions taken by staff at the group home led to the fatality. Investigators say it may be difficult to tease that information out of the situation, especially considering that those with such serious disabilities often die unexpectedly from natural causes. Official reports show that the boy's mother had entered an Alford plea when faced with child abuse charges the year after the boy's brain injury; she maintained her innocence but admitted that there was likely enough evidence to convict if taken to trial.

Children who remain in long-term care because of child injury deserve the highest standard of treatment. If the group home is found liable for the child's death, it is possible that the family members may choose to file a civil suit against that entity. In addition to hospitals and other care facilities, group homes for disabled youth may also be held responsible for the negligent deaths of their residents.

Source: WBAL-TV, "Boy dies at Laurel home for disabled foster children Investigators look into abuse from years past" George Lettis, Jul. 11, 2014

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