Laila Marie Daniel, 2, in an undated family photo. (Family Photo)

DFCS worker failed to investigate signs of child abuse

A state child protection worker and her supervisor failed to investigate injuries spotted on a 2-year-old girl in foster care, who police say later died of abuse, according to documents obtained Wednesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Moreover, the agency workers did not heed warnings about Jennifer Rosenbaum, the child’s caregiver who is now charged in her violent death, according to the case summary by the state Division of Family and Children Services. The AJC obtained the summary through the state open records law.

The case summary details a litany of errors by the agency that had removed Laila Marie Daniel from the care of her birth mother and eventually placed her with Rosenbaum this summer. DFCS’ mission is to protect children, but in this case, the agency placed Laila in the hands of a caretaker who police say eventually beat, starved and killed the child.

The case summary details a broken leg that Laila suffered while in Rosenbaum’s care. Rosenbaum told DFCS caseworker Samantha White that the injury occurred while the child was at a gymnastics class. Had White checked out that story, she would have learned that the child was not even enrolled in a gymnastics class, the summary said.

“It was definitely a screw-up. That’s where the ball was dropped,” said Gina Banks, the girl’s maternal grandmother.

Banks, of Forest Park, said DFCS missed the red flags that could have saved Laila.

Banks said the agency needs a thorough review, and that Rosenbaum “swindled her way through the system and pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes.”

White and her supervisor, Tamara Warner, have since been fired for violating agency policies that require a review of serious injuries of children in foster care.

The case summary also pointed to warnings about Rosenbaum from a woman who had been the girl’s prior foster care mother. Patricia Lambert was caring for Laila before the girl was formally transferred to Rosenbaum’s care. The girl made several visits to Rosenbaum’s during that time, but Lambert told the agency that Laila came back with injuries.

“She was concerned about their care and the supervision being provided by the Rosenbaums,” the summary said.

The caseworker did not file a report on these injuries or investigate them, the summary said.

Rosenbaum, charged with murder and child cruelty, was granted a $100,000 bond Tuesday in Henry County Superior Court. Her husband, Joseph, charged with child cruelty, had earlier received a $10,000 bond.

Laila died Nov. 17, about five months after she was placed in the care of the Rosenbaums. The arrest warrant for Jennifer Rosenbaum said she killed the child by striking her in the abdomen “with such force the child’s pancreas was transected. The child was believed to enter shock due to the blood loss resulting from the injury.”

The warrant noted that Laila was “injured about her body in its entirety,” suffering severe bruising on her back, legs, head and abdomen, and breaks of her legs and arms. The Rosenbaums also abused Laila’s sister, authorities said.

Corinne Mull, the Rosenbaums’ attorney, said Laila died after Jennifer Rosenbaum performed the Heimlich maneuver and CPR when the child was choking on some chicken. Mull said the force of the compressions may have caused the injury to the pancreas.

Mull attributed Laila’s and her sister’s other injuries to either abuse prior to their stay with the Rosenbaums or the general bumps and bruises of childhood play.

White and Warner were also fired because of problems with a background check on Rosenbaum. When DFCS places a foster child with a person, the agency is supposed to check whether the person has a criminal history or any accusations against them of child abuse or neglect. The agency also inspects the home to make sure it’s a safe environment.

“We followed the standard background check, but it was not conducted as thoroughly as it was defined in policy,” said DFCS spokeswoman Ashley Fielding.

She said the caseworker failed to screen Rosenbaum’s maiden name when determining whether she had a history of accusations of child abuse or neglect. Rosenbaum had no such history, Fielding said, so the check “would not have had an impact on the placement decision.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X