AUSTIN (KXAN) – Three Child Protective Services workers have been fired following the mishandling of reports involving Colton Turner, whose mother told police died after hitting his head as the result of being assaulted.
In a report released Thursday, the agency says it failed to protect the boy:
Over the course of two years, Child Protective Services (CPS) received six reports and conducted four investigations into allegations that Colton Turner, born September 21, 2011, had been abused or neglected. In all of those investigations, there were failures to follow policy as well as mistakes in judgment by caseworkers and/or supervisory personnel. As a result, CPS failed to protect Colton Turner.
The mishandling of Colton’s case came to light as part of the agency’s internal review following the toddler’s death. The agency’s report names numerous policy violations, including in its very first investigation involving Colton Turner where the case worker failed to conduct a joint investigation with law enforcement after receiving notification of physical abuse. Also in the first investigation, the agency discovered the case worker claimed to have taken a photograph of Colton, “but a review of records does not confirm this information,” the report reads.
A second investigation was started on March 23, 2013 when the agency received a report that Colton may have been at risk for sexual abuse and chronic drug use by his mother. In that instance, the case worker reported Colton’s mother, Megan Work, did test positive for marijuana use but subsequent drug tests were clear. Work also entered into a safety plan to keep the toddler away from a drug use environment. The case was closed, but the agency says the case worker failed to investigate the claims of sexual abuse.
The third investigation began several days after the second was closed, after CPS received a report that alleged physical abuse and neglect as well as continued drug use in his home and the risk of sexual abuse. The case worker saw Colton on June 19th, 2013 and noted there were no visible injuries and that Work tested negative for any drugs. The case worker, and a second case worker assigned to the investigation left CPS. A special investigator was assigned to the case on Aug. 27, 2013 with instructions to find the family.
The special investigator saw Colton on Dec. 20, however did not document his condition. The case files indicate a photograph was taken, again however, agency officials say they could not find the photo. The case was closed on March 3.
The fourth investigation began May 21, 2014 after the agency got word that there were photos show bruising. The case worker assigned to investigate the claim spoke with two people who knew the family, but never requested the photos. On June 14, the agency got an anonymous tip that Colton “had visible injuries and that he looked ill on photographs posted on the mother’s Facebook page.” The assigned case worker was on vacation and another investigator was not assigned to look for the boy. The report continues:
From May 21 until August 28, 2014, no significant effort was made to locate the family despite CPS having multiple sources of information that could have been pursued. The investigation caseworker never saw Colton Turner during this period.
On August 28, 2014, CPS received another report and it was assigned to a new investigator who immediately began looking for Colton and his mother. The new investigator worked closely with law enforcement and ultimately learned of Colton’s death on September 12, 2014.
Agency takes action on Colton Turner case
At the conclusion of its investigation, the Department of Family and Protective Services terminated three employees: the investigation caseworker, the supervisor and the program director who had responsibility for the last investigation.
Additionally, the agency is adding additional Master Investigator Supervisors to Travis County to help ease the caseload burden. Special investigators from other regions are being assigned to the Travis County office to assist with “delinquent and difficult investigations”