PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) has determined neglect contributed to the deaths of two girls after a fire broke out inside their Providence home last December.
The child welfare agency sent out a public notice of their findings on Friday, which is required by law when DCYF determines abuse or neglect contributed to a fatality or near-fatality of a child.
“The Department initiated an investigation and determined neglect contributed to their fatalities,” the agency wrote in the disclosure. “Pursuant to state law, DCYF has notified the Office of the Child Advocate of the report.”
The devastating fire on Lucy Street on Dec. 22 killed 7-year-old Ashley Sandoval and her sister, 2-year-old Allison Sandoval, who were both pulled from the fire and rushed to Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
Providence Police said at the time of the fire that adult relatives and a younger relative were in the apartment with the girls at the time of the fire, while the girls’ mother had walked to a nearby market.
DCYF did not indicate in their disclosure whether they deemed a specific person was responsible for neglecting the girls, and the email said further information would not be released because of confidentiality laws.
A spokesperson said the agency uses the standard of neglect from the state’s civil child protection statute, not a criminal standard, in its investigations.
“In the context of this case … ‘neglect’ is defined as a child whose physical or mental health or welfare is harmed, or threatened with harm, when their parent or other person responsible for their welfare fails to provide the child with a minimum degree of care or proper supervision or guardianship because of an unwillingness or inability to do so,” spokesperson Kelly Brennan said in an email.
No charges have been filed in the case thus far. Providence Police Maj. David Lapatin said Friday police have turned their findings over to the R.I. Attorney General’s office.
Kristy dosReis, a spokesperson for the Attorney General, said the office recently received the materials to review and declined to comment on the ongoing matter.