DCF report sheds light on child's living conditions before death

Family investigated 5 times since 2009

On July 12 th, Dakota was found by Indian River County Sheriff's deputies wandering into a neighbor's backyard. 

When investigators from the state Department of Children and Families arrived, they reported that the home was, "filthy."  

The bathroom toilet was clogged with feces and the bathroom was moldy.   

Dakota's room was noted as having the "worst living conditions," described as a "pigsty."

His crib was dirty and the room was, "full of garbage," according to the DCF report.

The backyard pool where Dakota would ultimately be found was also noted in this report as containing "polluted water."

There were three other occasions DCF investigated the family.

Those investigations began in 2009, when Dakota was born with opiates in his system. 

Turns out, his mother had a legal prescription drug for back pain.

In January of 2012, the child's father was accused of chasing down his 13 year old daughter for not cleaning her room.

And finally, in May 2012, Dakota's brother went to school complaining of a headache.  He reported that his father threw a blanket over his head causing him to fall.

In each of these cases DCF workers investigated and did not determine any of the accusations to be founded.  The children were deemed safe staying in the home.

But on July 12, 2013 after Dakota's was found wandering, investigators acknowledged the parents had problems raising their children.

DCF put the parents on a safety plan.  Two weeks later, young Dakota's body was found lifeless in the backyard pool.

"What we're looking at now is what was the thought process was in why there was no removal of the child that night.  It's a legitimate question.  We have not completed that part of the investigation," said Dennis Miles, Regional Managing Director for DCF.

Dakota is not the first child to die after the state deemed him safe to stay in his home.  His case is undergoing a full review.  Last week, DCF leaders announced they were reviewing all other death cases.

"We want to know what happened and why.  We're not going to hide behind anything.  If a mistake was made we'll expose that mistake and we'll deal with that mistake," said Miles.

Regional directors have been ordered to investigate the idea of having sheriff's departments do investigations which are currently conducted by case workers.

"Keeping children safe is a number one priority," said DCF Press Secretary Whitney Ray.  "We're in a situation where all options are on the table."

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