BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will soon face legal action after the death of a two-year-old child.
Two-year-old Mitchell Robinson, or baby Mitch, lost his life after ingesting fentanyl while in his mother’s care. The mother, Whitney Ard, has been arrested for negligent homicide, but Attorney Ron Haley said this death could have been prevented.
“We are here today in memory of baby Mitch, however, this is for all of the children that have been affected by the gross negligence of DCFS,” said Haley. “There were signs that were given to the proper reporting agencies and yet these signs have gone ignored.”
Authorities said Robinson was brought to the hospital multiple times this year with drugs in his system. Haley said DCFS failed to remove the child from his mother’s care.
“His mother was suffering and is still suffering from the disease of addition. DCFS was put on notice of this, and yet nothing happened,” Haley said.
Now, the child’s father is fighting back with a lawsuit against the agency. Three law firms have come together to take legal action against DCFS.
“What we are seeking out in this lawsuit is change,” said Attorney Chris Murell.
In a Senate Select Committee on Women and Children meeting this week, DCFS top officials blame the fault of their agency on a lack of funding. Haley, as well as attorneys David Utter and Chris Murell, said they hope this suit will force new legislation.
“Because of the under funding and because of the way the agency is run, has decided to create situations like baby Mitch’s, this is completely forgeable,” Murell said.
“I don’t know what it is about this state that continually fails kids,” said Utter.
A suit has not been filed as of yet while the legal team discusses whether to take this to state or federal court.
The attorneys emphasized that they are not going after individual social workers, saying they understand the workers are overloaded with cases and that the suit will focus on the agency as a whole and top leaders.
BRProud reached out to the DCFS but they declined to comment.