UNIONTOWN (KDKA) — Two fatal child abuse cases in Fayette County have people outraged and looking for answers.
Trenton St. Clair, 4, died this week after he was allegedly beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend.
Earlier this year, 15-month-old Madison Dodson was found dead on the floor of a filthy Point Marion home. Her feeding tube was improperly installed.
Fayette County Commissioner Vince Zapotosky told KDKA-TV’s Trina Orlando by phone: “We are fighting a battle. Two deaths in less than a year is a crisis and we are reaching out to the state as well as the federal government for help.”
The help is needed because decreased allocations from the state and federal government have resulted in a nearly $800,000 cut in funding this year for the department of Children and Youth Services.
That is despite an increase in the number of cases CYS is dealing with. In the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the agency was asked to investigate 1,021 households.
In 2010-2011, that number jumped to 1,204 households.
The number of households needing CYS services went from 361 in 2006-2007 to 392 in 2010-11.
“Right now, we’re holding our own and we’re doing what we need to do,” Gina D’Auria, a casework manager for Fayette County CYS, said.
“But what you will see down the road is we will be requesting additional funding from the county level in the hopes that they’ll be able to fill in what we’re losing from the state and federal.”
D’Auria said she can’t talk about specific cases, but says right now she has 20 caseworkers dealing with more than 900 open cases in the county.
“They’re all here for the right reasons, they believe in what they’re doing and they’re here because they want to work with families and keep children safe,” she said. “I can’t praise my staff enough.”
CYS says the biggest misconception about their department is that they’re not doing anything. Confidentiality laws keep them from telling the public about the many things that are happening.