Report: ‘Unsafe sleeping conditions’ contributed to deaths of infants in state care

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new state report is shedding light on the deaths of three infants who died last year while in the care of the R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).

The R.I. Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) put the report together to take a closer look at how the deaths happened and what precautions could be taken to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Of the three infants who died, OCA found two cases involved unsafe sleeping conditions.

The third child was taken to an emergency room after experiencing cold-like symptoms for several days. The child then went into respiratory arrest.

All three children were from families that have a history with DCYF and two of the children were living in unlicensed foster care, according to the report.

Some of the recommendations by the OCA to prevent these issues in the future include:

  • Intense oversight of unlicensed foster placements, including regular visitation.
  • Timeframes for completing foster home licensing.
  • Ensure all relative and non-relative caretakers have knowledge of safe sleeping and are equipped with safe bedding immediately upon placement.
  • New assessment tools for DCYF to address needs of children and families, especially in children under the age of six whose families have a history with DCYF.

While two autopsies are still pending, the report says no foul play has been determined in the deaths, calling them “tragic accidents.”

The one autopsy that has already been completed found the child in question died of asphyxia due to “unsafe sleeping environment and prone position.”

A total of five children died in 2015 while in DCYF care.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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