- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2005

A 7-week-old foster child remains in critical condition four days after his foster mother was arrested and charged with repeatedly slapping, shaking and dropping him. He is not expected to live through the weekend, officials said yesterday.

As the child struggles, Child and Family Services Agency officials and sources are giving varied accounts of what happened this month in the Bass Circle apartment in Southeast that the infant shared with foster mother Tonya Jenkins, her 3-year-old son, Jeremiah, and her boyfriend.

Sources with access to the agency files, saidMiss Jenkins, 37, attempted to return the infant to the agency in the days before he was hospitalized, but a case worker convinced her to keep the child.

“The infant was brought back because [the agency] didn’t have a placement,” the source said. “They begged her to take the infant back.”

The source also said Miss Jenkins called the agency three times Tuesday to report problems with the child. She said on the third call that the child had stopped breathing and social workers advised her to call 911, the source said. Miss Jenkins was arrested that day and charged with first-degree cruelty to children, a felony.

Agency officials yesterday refuted claims that Miss Jenkins called numerous times or tried to return the infant, named Rafael.

“There is nothing in the record to indicate that she asked us to remove the child,” said Brenda Donald Walker, the agency’s outgoing director, who on Monday will become deputy mayor for Children, Youth, Families and Elders. “We went out and did visits and subsequent visits and had phone conversations with her and workers input all the information. …The only time she called with concerns was when she called and said the baby wasn’t breathing.”

Mindy Good, an agency spokeswoman, gave a different version, saying Miss Jenkins never called the agency and went straight to the police.

“We got a call from the police that they were at the hospital where they had a child in very, very critical condition and, medically, it was looking like an abuse situation,” she said. “The foster mother called the ambulance.”

Miss Jenkins has been registered as a foster parent since March. She received her first child, an infant girl, shortly after being approved. She kept the infant for a short time before returning her to the agency, saying she was unable to keep her because of personal medical problems.

Miss Jenkins told police she dropped Rafaelsix or seven times accidently and acknowledged slapping him six or seven times and shaking him repeatedly out of frustration after he would not stop crying, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

She also is charged with child neglect involving Jeremiah, her biological child, who has special needs. The agency took him into custody after Miss Jenkins’ arrest. Rafael was given to Miss Jenkins after being removed from an abusive home, sources said. They also said he was addicted at birth to crack cocaine and would not stop crying because he was going through drug withdraw.

Miss Jenkins is scheduled to appear in court Monday on the child-neglect charge.

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