It is the typicality of the Maddison Parrott case that bothers me the most. To dismiss her death as merely tragic, forseeable, and preventable, is to miss the point entirely.
To say that her case workers dropped the ball, missed the red flags, and left her to “fall through the cracks” is to provide them with far more credit than they deserve.
In a tale that rings eerily familiar to many long-term child advocates, barely two-year-old Maddison Parrott lost her life while in the care of the state. Her 40-year old foster mother is being held without bond on charges of murder following the results of a coroner’s inquest.
St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain says her state-assigned foster parent, Trenique Faciane, “admitted what she did, of not only attacking the child with a brush, but then shaking the child severely and then dropped her into a bathtub.”
That is how Maddison came to her ultimate demise, However, what she’d endured in the weeks prior to her death are the kind of horrors that no young child should endure – let alone while in the care and protection of the state.
Attorney Bill Arata – who is representing the child’s natural mother Mindy Parrott – says Mindy suspected that her daughter was being abused in the foster parent’s home.
“The mother reported weekly for at least a month prior to the death of the child that there were unexplained bruising on the child. She wanted them to follow up on it. DCFS did not,” says Arata.
“The problem I’ve got is that she brought this to their attention over and over and over again.”
In fact, Arata says Parrott sent several statements to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
“Mindy noticed things and placed DCFS on notice of those injuries, and there were multiple bruises. I think the last one was on the child’s forehead. It involved even a cut,” says Arata.
“The next step is for the Sheriff’s Office to go to the judge, get that warrant for first-degree murder after the death of the child, and then that was done, and she remains in jail where she is not eligible for a bond,” said St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain.
Sheriff Strain understands the crucial point.
“To be attacked by a person that the state deemed you could trust, you know, how do you put into words what that child suffered, you know is beyond me,” Strain explained to WDSU Channel 6 reporters.
In early September, The Acadiana Advocate reported that Ray Travis Parrott and Mindy Parrott, whose daughter Madison Parrott died May 22, had filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, three DCFS employees, and others, including Trenique Faciane, the foster mother who had been booked on a count of first-degree murder and was being held without bail. The lawsuit, which seeks damages, was filed in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.
In late September, the foster mother had her bail set at $1 million by the 19th Judicial District Court in St. Tammany Parish.
To date, none of the caseworkers have been indicted as accessories to murder. Neither the child protective services caseworkers who removed Maddison from her home placing her in harm’s way, nor the foster care case workers who’d ignored her mother’s repeated pleas, are facing any criminal charges whatsoever.
At best, they may face a lengthy civil trial, and the taxpayers will bear the expense of their actions and inactions. Meanwhile, business as usual continues at the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
St. Tammanny Parish Sheriff’s Office, jail booking, “Lacombe area woman jailed for cruelty to juveniles,” May 22, 2015.
Faimon A. Roberts III and Sara Pagones, “Bail set at $1 million for St. Tammany woman accused of fatally beating foster daughter,” New Orleans Advocate (September 21, 2015).
WWLTV Channel 6, “Woman who beat child with brush, dropped her in tub indicted for murder,” (September 16, 2015).
Joe Gyan Jr, “Lawsuit claims state agency ignored signs of abuse to 22-month-old foster child who died in May,” The Acadiana Advocate, (September 1, 2015).