Another Baby Dies in Las Vegas Foster Care

from: klastv.com

Aug 7, 2006
Ashanti Blaize, Reporter

A 7-month-old boy who was in foster care and brought to Sunrise Hospital in critical condition passed away.

The infant's foster mother called paramedics Wednesday and when they arrived he was not breathing.

Two additional children, ages two and three, were also found in the residence. These children were booked into Protective Custody pending further investigation.

Police are investigating the possible abuse of another child in foster care and at the same time, a blue ribbon panel looked at the problems with the system.

The new director of Clark County's Child Protective Services says he's trying his best to fix the troubled department.

Tom Morton, the new director of family services, is trying to defend his troubled agency. The problem is he's only been on the job for three weeks, so he's defending an agency he barely knows.   

For 30 years Morton has been trying to protect the most vulnerable of children. From Alabama to Illinois, his job hasn't been easy.

"A long time ago a friend of mine described this work as like changing the fan belt with the motor running," he says.

Child welfare isn't something Morton always wanted to do. After graduate school he just kind of fell into it and then fell in love with it.

"It's kind of like that old movie with Judy Garland where she sings to Clark Gable - "I didn't want to love you but you made me do it." I can think of no more satisfying way that I could have spent my life," Morton says.

It's why he thought he was up to the challenge of reforming clark county's troubled department of family services.

He's been the agency's director for 15 days, but already its proving to be his most difficult task yet.

"People are asking why decisions got made before I was here and I really can't answer that but again I need a sense of history to understand how we got to where we are."

In his first 15 days, a child was left in a hot van alone by a child haven worker and in another case a 7-month-old boy in foster care was rushed to the hospital last night after he stopped breathing.

"Hopefully this is not going to be an example of how the next 49 weeks are gonna go." Morton says.

Hopefully this won't be the place that ends his 30-year love affair with child welfare work.

Today during that blue ribbon committee panel, Morton outlined one of the ways he believes could better the agency.

The plan includes working with parents of at-risk children first before pulling them out of their home and putting them into foster care.

Send feedback to reporter Ashanti Blaize at ablaize@klastv.com

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