BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Since the arrest of a mother whose two-year-old son fatally overdosed in June, the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) says it has not spared time to review the case.
Incidents were reported to DCFS before the child’s death, according to the sheriff’s office.
DCFS said it immediately launched a review into the case and is working with the Office of Inspector General. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters released a statement on the investigation:
When we learned of the tragedy involving this child, we immediately began a comprehensive review of this case and all circumstances surrounding it.
The Department has already taken numerous steps to make changes that range from policy changes to personnel actions. The review is ongoing.
We are also working with the Office of Inspector General to review every step of this case and will not be able to comment further.DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters
The mayor’s office commented on the child’s overdose, calling it a tragedy while continuing to call on the community to “activate and engage.” A spokesperson for Mayor-President Sharon Weston said millions are being invested into law enforcement, community engagement, and mental health.
Investments include hiring more officers and increasing their pay, weekly community events focused on getting residents the resources they need, and focusing on trauma and family therapy in neighborhoods in need of those services.
“One act of violence is too much,” said Chief Communications Officer Mark Armstrong. “The death of even one child is an unsurmountable tragedy. We will continue our intensive work, with a focus on law enforcement, community engagement and mental health. We are treating violence like a public health emergency. We will continue to focus on underlying causes while working to rebuild and repair traumatized families.”
Two-year-old Mitchell Robinson III is believed to have ingested pills left lying around before he was declared dead at a local hospital on the morning of Sunday, June 26, according to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office (EBRSO). An arrest warrant stated that medical personnel noted the child’s death as suspicious.
EBRSO investigators said it wasn’t the first time Robinson visited a hospital as he had been brought in for medical attention two other times in April and June. The sheriff’s office said both incidents were reported to DCFS.
An EBR Coroner’s report said Robinson’s death was due to an “acute fentanyl toxicity” and the toxicology report showed 14 ng/mL of fentanyl in his blood. In an early July interview, Robinson’s sibling told authorities that she had seen her brother eat “mom’s pills.”
The child’s mother, 28-year-old Whitney Ard, was arrested on one count of negligent homicide on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The sheriff’s office said Ard was previously arrested in May on a fentanyl possession charge.