COLLIN COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) – In her short life, two-year-old Grace Ford received the attention of state Child Protective Services (CPS) four times. By the fifth time, she was dead.
Now, a report by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General finds a CPS computer system, designed to identify and flag multiple allegations involving a young child, failed.
Had the system worked in Ford’s case, it could have triggered a separate review.
Marissa Gonzales, spokeswoman for the Department of Family Protective Services told CBS 11 News, “It does look like there might have been a glitch in the computer-generated report that includes these cases, and this case was not in there.”
Melinda Muniz, the former fiancé of Ford’s father, is now accused of murdering Grace this past January. Inside the father’s apartment, Plano police say they found Grace unconscious in her crib, with duct tape over her mouth.
Records show CPS first looked into Grace’s well being in March of 2012, after receiving allegations of neglectful supervision. In that case, CPS though ruled it was unable to determine.
Then between July and December of last year, caseworkers opened abuse cases involving Grace three additional times. CPS ruled out abuse in those cases as well and found caseworkers had handled them properly. But the Inspector General’s report found the case in December, the third in one year, should have prompted a further review by a child safety specialist, but it didn’t.
Gonzales said, “We’ve just gotten a look at it, and we’ll be taking a look to see if changes need to be made to this system.” She says the department believes this is an isolated case, and that this is not part of a widespread problem.
Grace Ford’s father, Mitch, declined comment on the report. Her mother, Emily Reeves, said on her Facebook page that the report infuriates her all over again.
Jane Nelson, a republican state senator out of Lewisville, is chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. In a statement, Senator Nelson says, “Our committee is working on several fronts to address problems at Child Protective Services, but we also need to take a hard look at what we can do as a society to prevent child abuse. There is no excuse for anyone to harm children.”
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