Child Protective Services is addressing allegations that they could have prevented the death of foster baby Jayla Beckley. Police say Jayla died last Saturday at the hands of her foster parent, Antonio Lopez.
CPS says the baby's mother could've done more to keep her child. A CPS spokesman told ABC-7 Antonio Lopez passed all the background checks and appeared trustworthy, and that they are horrified by Jayla's death. But they also said the baby never had to be in his home in the first place.
The baby's biological mother, Lachreasha Beckley, is an admitted drug user, and a CPS spokesman said her refusal to clean up gave them no choice but to remove her baby from the home. Beckley disagrees.
"Do you feel responsible for her death?" ABC 7 asked Lachreasha Beckley. "No I do not," she said.
Beckley admitted she hasn't been the best parent. Lachreasha's on-going battle with crack cocaine has forced her mother, Mary, to adopt her two sons, and take in Jayla before her death. According to Child Protective Services, Jayla was only removed from Mary Beckley's home and put in the foster system because of Lachreasha Beckley's actions.
"We worked extensively with this family to try to come up with a safe placement option to keep this child out of foster care," said CPS spokesman Paul Zimmerman. "The family would not agree. And we basically had no other option to but to put the child into foster care to guarantee her safety."
But Beckley told ABC-7 she wanted Jayla to remain in her care while she attended a rehab facility, a request she said CPS denied.
"I feel like there was no reason for them to remove that baby from the house," Beckley said. "And I feel like they just did it because they were CPS and that's what they wanted to do. And because they felt like I was not cooperating, which I was. If you go looking in the case file, you will see where I have signed paperwork because I do need help because I'm carrying another child. And I knew I needed help and I was reaching out," she said.
Court documents obtained by ABC-7 stateBeckley was breaking into her mother's home, smoking crack on the property and stealing the car. Because she is the custodial parent of Jayla, CPS feared Beckley could legally run off with the baby, putting her in harm's way.
"We did everything we could to prevent that child from going into foster care, because we knew that was a better placement," Zimmerman said.
When confronted by this information, Beckley admitted, she's partially to blame.
"I have a lot of guilt. Because the bottom line is that if I would have been handling my responsibilities, this would have never happened," she said.
While both sides are pointing fingers, the fact is a baby is dead. CPS is investigating foster parent Antonio Lopez, trying to figure out what went wrong. Police said Lopez admitted he picked the baby up, put her on the floor and stomped on her chest. The 11-mont-old died an hour after 911 was called to the house.
Beckley, currenly pregnant with baby number five, told ABC-7 she is working to be a better mother.
"I feel like I made a mistake now that's taken somebody's life. I fixin' to grow up and be a responsible adult," she said.
Beckely and her mother, Mary, claim they knew Lopez was abusing Jayla before her death. When asked if anyone had checked up on Jayla, Zimmerman said that's all part of CPS and Residential Childcare Licencing's investigation which should last 30 to 60 days.