please read DEATH TRIGGERS REVIEW OF CHILD-WELFARE CASE
Death triggers review of child-welfare case
Girl's file noted signs of abuse
By Rick Callahan
INDIANAPOLIS -- Child welfare officials turned over a large case file yesterday to prosecutors investigating why a 3-year-old girl allegedly beaten to death by her mother and the mother's boyfriend was returned to them despite evidence of earlier abuse.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said he will scour that file to determine why TaJanay Bailey, who died Tuesday, was taken from foster care in October and returned to her mother, Charity Bailey, and her live-in boyfriend, Lawrence Green.
Bailey and Green, both 20, were charged Wednesday with murder, neglect and other charges in TaJanay's death. They are being held without bond at the Marion County Jail.
Brizzi said his main question in reviewing the lengthy case file that child welfare workers had compiled on TaJanay is why the Department of Child Services never notified police that a caseworker found that the girl was physically abused last year in her mother's care.
That determination was made in May 2006 after a physician at an Indianapolis hospital reported suspected abuse, noting extensive bruising on TaJanay.
"Having a baby in a safe environment and then returned to parents who were already deemed to be abusive, that's the part where the system obviously at some point was not working," Brizzi said. "There's nothing we can do to bring this little girl back, but hopefully by finding out the answers to these questions we can prevent it from happening again."
Among other things, he said his probe into TaJanay's death will seek to answer who ordered her removal from foster care and whether the caseworker or a supervisor objected.
Susan Tielking, a Department of Child Services spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the Bailey case. She said a department team is reviewing the case and would forward its findings to Brizzi's office.
"We are thoroughly investigating everything and looking through every file and piece of paper we have," Tielking said.
Brizzi plans to seek life sentences without parole for both Bailey and Green, who are scheduled to appear in court today for an initial hearing on the charges.
He said there is evidence the pair "systemically tortured" TaJanay last week after she soiled herself, beating her repeatedly. Green is also accused of hanging the girl on a hook by her T-shirt, injuring her.
A probable-cause affidavit filed Wednesday said Bailey told officers after they were called to the couple's filth-ridden apartment early Tuesday that Green had beaten TaJanay.
"Yesterday he beat her real bad like today but she didn't die," Bailey is quoted in the affidavit as telling an officer.
Green told officers that shortly before TaJanay's death, Bailey struck her daughter in the face, sending her head backward into a wall and causing her to become unconscious, according to the document·
An autopsy found TaJanay died of blunt force trauma to her head, neck and abdomen.
TaJanay's former foster mother, Janice Springfield, said she repeatedly warned a child welfare case worker about evidence of physical abuse involving TaJanay at the hands of Bailey and Green.
Springfield said she had TaJanay and her 6-month-old brother, Lawrence Green Jr., removed from her home early last month and moved to another foster home because she was told the siblings would soon be returned to Bailey and Green's care. She said she didn't want to play a role in the children going directly from her home to Bailey and Green's household.
Springfield said she hopes the pair are convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
"And as for the system, I want them to look at all the evidence and all the facts in this case and I want them to do something, starting with saying, 'We made an error in judgment,' " she said.
Springfield said TaJanay was a sweet child who loved french fries, watching her favorite cartoon, "Dora the Explorer," and singing along with the Campbell Soup Co.'s "Possibilities" commercial.
"Whenever it came on she would just stop what she was doing and stand there and sing it. You know, just small little things made her happy," she said.
TaJanay, who had spent much of her life in foster care, died the same day the Annie E. Casey Foundation -- a Baltimore-based child-advocacy group -- honored Indiana for its efforts to reform its child welfare system.
Legislation passed by the General Assembly has resulted in the Department of Child Services hiring more than 400 new caseworkers since mid-2005 and reducing caseloads, once as high as 60 for some workers, to what is expected to be no more than 17 by the middle of next year. Close