Baby Jessica buried Saturday; grandmother calls for 'system to be fixed'

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Date: 2008-09-08

Baby Jessica buried Saturday; grandmother calls for 'system to be fixed'

September 8. 2008
Mike Buffington

The maternal grandmother of the baby who died after being left in a hot van last week said the state’s foster care system “is broke and needs to be fixed.”

Baby Jessica Scovil was buried Saturday. “Today is a day of mourning, sorrow, separation and tears,” said Rev. Johnny Ray at Jessica’s service.

Tina Swatkowski said in a statement Monday that the state’s foster care system failed both her daughter, Evelyn, who had given up the child on a temporary basis, and Wendy Osborne, the foster mother who accidentally left the child in a van last week.

“Evelyn needed supports put into place and not to have her daughter taken from her,” said Swatkowski. “The foster mother must have been overwhelmed to have left Baby Jessica in the van like she did. So I guess the system not only doesn’t support birth parents, they don’t even give foster parents the support they need.”

Swatkowski said Jessica had been removed from her daughter’s care after Evelyn asked for help to deal with a bipolar condition. She said there were no neglect or criminal charges involved in Jessica’s having been placed in foster care.

“The system is broke and needs to be fixed,” Swatkowski wrote. “Don’t let Jessica die in vain, let’s get justice for Jessica, let’s change the system.”


Meanwhile, the attorney for Osborne defended his client as a “loving and caring provider (who) is suffering through unimaginable pain with the loss of a child that was loved as one of her own.”

Attorney Phil Pilgrim said Osborne had been a foster parent for many years and had helped teach other foster parents about “how to help these children better adapt to their new lives.”

Pilgrim also blasted the media for its coverage of Osborne, saying “the press have failed to respect her privacy to the point where she cannot even come home to her own residence.”

“We can only hope that somewhere, someone in authority with the various media agencies would find one scintilla of decency and allow our client to grieve in private.”


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