Noah Cuatro’s parents were arrested Thursday afternoon in connection with the four-year-old’s death.
We’re not surprised they were arrested, but do wonder what took so long. Cuatro died on July 6 and at the time, his parents, Ursula Juarez and Jose Cuatro, claimed the boy drowned in the swimming pool at their apartment complex. However, the boy had injuries that later raised suspicions about how he died.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced, the following week, that an investigation into the boy’s death was underway. The child lived with his parents and three siblings, but was no stranger to the county’s social workers and the Department of Children and Family Services. In fact, there were at least a dozen calls made to DCFS’s child abuse hotline and to police, from people who said they suspected Noah and his siblings were being abused.
DCFS issued a statement last month saying they serve more than 34,000 families and vulnerable children in Los Angeles County with “an unwavering commitment to pursue child safety every day in our communities. Our 9,000 employees are committed to this mission and we look to do everything possible to safeguard the children entrusted to our care.”
Eva Hernandez, the boy’s grandmother, told the Los Angeles Times that Noah spent time in various foster homes and she also was a foster parent to him.
According to a lawsuit filed by Hernandez, against the county, Noah was repeatedly removed from his mother’s care.
Despite the lack of comment from DCFS, it seems that the system failed this child — and he’s not the only one. In addition to Noah Cuatro, Gabriel Fernandez and Anthony Avalos were also under the supervision of DCFS at the times of their deaths.
We are sure there are more that are in dangerous situations, but little is being done to protect them.
In fact, we get frequent calls to the newsroom from parents who claim they have issues with DCFS. Others claim their children were taken away for no good reason. We’re not sure what’s going on with that agency, but we always tell callers who are hoping we can investigate, that we do not look into those types of cases.
It’s not because we don’t care, but we do not have the resources to dig into stories like this and then there are the privacy issues — not to mention, you are dealing with minors and that, alone, has it’s own set of rules when reporting.
The system is broken, that much is clear. There’s no reason a child should die at the hands of their parents or caregivers — especially when they’ve been taken out of that environment, then returned for various reasons. Maybe the parents have undergone counseling or maybe they’ve gotten off drugs, whatever the reason behind it, apparently the goal of DCFS is to reunite parents and children. While that’s understandable, the fact that some of these cases have involved multiple interventions from DCFS, with the children being removed from an unsafe environment is not.
Just how many alleged abuse calls does it take for DCFS to understand that there’s a real problem in that home? They need to do better for children who are being abused. They’ve failed them in the past, but it’s never too late to make things right. A heavy workload isn’t a good reason for a child’s death. There is never a good reason, but it’s particularly worse for their surviving family members, when they know it could have been prevented.