- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 1, 2005

A woman who admitted to slapping, shaking and dropping a 7-week-old foster baby last week was given custody of the infant even though the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) was aware she had abused or neglected other children, a source told The Washington Times yesterday.

“The file showed that [Tonya] Jenkins was already in the system … in November of 1999,” said a source who asked not to be identified. “It said that she had some children taken from her care.”

Meanwhile, a 1-month-old foster baby from the District died in Prince George’s County yesterday morning when his foster father accidentally rolled on top of him while asleep, officials with CFSA said.

“We believe the foster father fell asleep on him,” said Mindy Good, a CFSA spokeswoman. “We truly believe that this is a very horrible and tragic accident.”

The infant, whose name was not released, was living with the man as a foster child while the man waited for clearance to adopt him, she said.

The foster father’s name also was not released. The baby’s cause of death had not been determined.

Mrs. Jenkins, 37, was licensed as a foster parent in March, officials with CFSA said. Her presence in the database should have ruled her out automatically as a foster mother, but the safeguards apparently failed, sources said.

“If she had been accused of child abuse or neglect but those claims had not been substantiated, she wouldn’t be in the system,” said Shirley Tabb, a social worker who was fired from CFSA on Oct. 3 after complaining publicly that foster children had been forced to spend the night in the agency’s office building. “She should never have been allowed to have any baby.”

A source inside the agency said yesterday that the electronic file that documented Mrs. Jenkins’ 1999 incident had been removed.

“They can find nothing there,” the source said. “It was taken out. We don’t know how, but it was there the other day.”

Officials with CFSA denied yesterday that Mrs. Jenkins was in the system before she was licensed.

Mrs. Jenkins told police last week that she repeatedly slapped and shook the infant, Rafael, who was exposed to drugs at birth, because he would not stop crying. She also admitted to dropping the child accidentally.

Sources with CFSA told The Washington Times last week that Mrs. Jenkins had tried to return the child to the agency in the days before the abuse occurred. But agency officials, citing an internal investigation, denied that Mrs. Jenkins ever indicated that she would not be able to care for Rafael.

“At no time have we revealed any information that would indicate that Mrs. Jenkins ever tried to give the infant back,” Miss Good said.

Sources yesterday cited an unwritten CFSA policy that requires a 30-day notice before returning a child.

“It has been a standing and firmly stated ‘policy’ for many years — probably unwritten, as most firmly stated ‘policy’ is at CFSA — that a foster parent must give a 30-day notice before they can return a child,” the source said. “Such an all-encompassing policy is obviously insane, and general practice has been, as a last resort, to evaluate on a case-by-case basis — although there are absolutely no guidelines that I have ever been made aware of regarding what are acceptable mitigating circumstances for making exceptions to this 30-day notice rule.”

Mrs. Jenkins is charged with first-degree cruelty to children, a felony. She also is accused of child neglect in the case of her 3-year-old son, Jeremiah, a special-needs child who is in the custody of CFSA. She is scheduled to appear in court today.

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