Kansas DCF had repeated involvement before toddler died

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas child welfare officials say they received repeated reports about a Wichita toddler before he died of an overdose of the addiction treatment medication methadone.

The Kansas Department of Children and Families released a summary of its involvement with 2-year-old Zayden JayNesahkluah. Zayden’s mother, 23-year-old Kimberly Compass, was charged last month with first-degree murder.

Kimberly Compass (Courtesy: Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office)

The agency says the initial reports in December 2018 and January 2019 were about neglect and lack of supervision. Later, the agency received reports that Compass’ then-partner was physically abusive, and more that Compass was neglectful.

DCF Spokesperson Mike Deines sent KSN a statement from DCF Secretary Laura Howard.

“My heart is with the Jaynesahkluah family and the Wichita community. The death of a child, whether in DCF custody or not, is a tragedy and I am committed to doing everything possible to prevent this from happening again. My agency has instituted a more comprehensive review of critical incidents in order to quickly identify any agency or contractor policy or procedural issue that needs to be addressed. We must hold ourselves accountable by engaging in a constant process of improvement. In addition, we’ve launched new policies designed to strengthen families and protect children.

“Those initiatives include a new universal infant referral policy, new practice models that help to safely prevent children from coming into the child welfare system, new family preservation and foster care grants and instituting the Family First Prevention Act. I believe these improvements can endure at a systemic level and I am confident that these changes put the agency on a trajectory toward a stronger system for Kansas children and families.”

State Representative Michael Capps, R-District 85, says he believes DCF could have done more.

“Family preservation doesn’t work in all cases. I support the notion that we should attempt family preservation when at all possible,” said Capps. “But at the end of the day if it doesn’t work, this child should have been deemed a child in need of care and removed from the home, placed into the state’s care, and he very likely would still be alive today.”

Capps plans on introducing legislation soon that will allow law enforcement investigators to get more involved and have access to more DCF information regarding child cases.

Although the reports weren’t substantiated in this case, Compass received a mental health referral. The agency says that a service provider attempted to contact her on May 31, the day Zayden was found dead at a motel.

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