WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — On November 24, 2018, days before his 2nd birthday, Jeremiah Bradshaw died from what investigators call "numerous unexplained injuries."
West Palm Beach police arrested his 25-year-old mother, Stephanie Robinson, earlier this week for child neglect. Police say she failed to protect her son from the person who caused the deadly injuries.
On Wednesday, the Department of Children and Families released a report to Contact 5, admitting their services were "insufficient."
Robinson had already been on DCF's radar. According to DCF, between 2014 and 2018, there were five reports involving various members of Robinson's household.
Investigators say Jeremiah Bradshaw arrived at St. Mary's Medical Center on November 1st, 2018, his upper body paralyzed, bruised from his face down to his legs.
According to a report, doctors believed that someone hit the base of the little boy’s neck with a belt, injuring his spinal cord and obstructing his breathing.
23 days later, those injuries would lead to his death. The cause of death was complications of spinal cord injury due to blunt impact to neck.
DCF records show Jeremiah was with his mother's 28 year old significant other when the "unexplained injuries occurred." According to DCF, the significant other (who is not named) was not supposed to have contact with the boy.
According to a police report, Robinson first claimed the injuries to Jeremiah’s face were from him falling at the park and in the backyard. She said that though she was the toddler’s only caregiver, she hadn’t noticed the other injuries. She then changed her story about being the only caretaker, and said the boyfriend was as well. She added that he also "injured the victim's arm in June 2018."
In June, Jeremiah suffered a fractured left arm, lip abrasion and a human bite mark on his face.
A month before (May 2018), a child protective investigator had visited Robinson's home and found clothes belonging to a male. They say Robinson gave conflicting information about how often the boyfriend was in the home and refused to provide his full name, so that required background checks could be completed. The investigation was closed.
In June, following the fractured arm, the department implemented a safety plan to keep the boyfriend from Jeremiah. In their reports, they redact his name and relationship to Jeremiah. DCF started in home case management services and developed a danger safety plan. Robinson was instructed to not let Jeremiah around the man, and not to return to her home until the locks were changed.
DCF REPORT FOLLOWING DEATH: "Safety plan was not sufficient"
But according to a DCF critical incident rapid response team report, "on July 9, 2018, the CPI (child protective investigator) saw the mother in her apartment. She had not changed the locks on the doors, or moved to a new residence, and stated that she wanted the paramour (boyfriend) to be a part of the life."
The CIRRT is a report completed after a child's death, if the family had involvement with DCF in the 12 months before.
The report goes on to say that "although Robinson was not in compliance with the safety plan," nothing changed in terms of her services.
The report also noted the original child protective investigator requested that visits be unannounced to the Robinson home but DCF found six of the seven visits were scheduled visits.
DCF filed an injunction in August to keep Jeremiah safe, but mom continued to let the boyfriend around police and DCF investigators later found. A safety manager approved by DCF to oversee Robinson's safety plan also stopped responding to DCF calls around that same time, but no updated safety plans were created.
In their report, DCF admits, "the safety plan was not sufficient to ensure child safety," and "throughout the life of the case, there was a lack of ongoing assessment and modification of safety plans during critical case junctures."
Robinson has been the only one arrested in the case so far, but we are told the investigation is on-going.
DCF STATEMENT AND CHANGES
Statement from DCF Secretary Chad Poppell:
I cannot imagine the pain this precious child experienced in his short life, nor the pain this family is still feeling after his loss. I was outraged when I learned about this case and we will continue to support law enforcement to ensure those responsible for his death are brought to justice.
Domestic violence is a very serious issue in a family and we must be sure that we are taking every action in our power to protect vulnerable children and adult victims. We must enhance coordination with law enforcement to hold abusers accountable and protect victims, especially children.
DCF announced several changes following this death.
Some of those changes include developing criteria for mandatory notifications of hospital cases that will be escalated tothe Operations Manager.
The PA (program administrator) will notify the Operations Manager for all cases involving children presenting to the hospital with concerns of abuse of neglect.
The local domestic violence agencies will provide mandatory domestic violence training/refresher course.
Two new positions have been created, and in-home non-judicial case policies will be thoroughly revamped to include formal teammeetings and required visits.
For a list of more changes, you can check out the CIRRT report for yourself here.