DFPS investigating death of 2-year-old girl

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by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

khou.com

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 6:28 PM

AUSTIN -- The investigation continues into a Central Texas toddler's death while in foster care.

Two-year-old Alexandria Hill died Wednesday night at a children’s hospital in Temple after spending several days on life support.

Police arrested her foster mother Sherill Small and charged her with murder. Police say Small called them on Monday and told them that Alex had stopped breathing. At the hospital, doctors discovered she had hemorrhaging in and around her brain and eyes. She fell into a coma and never woke up.

The Department of Family Protective Services is now investigating the agency that approved Small and her husband as foster parents. Texas MENTOR is required to perform background checks and monitor the foster home environment while a child is under the care of the foster parents.

“Residential Childcare Licensing will take a closer look at how Texas MENTOR made their decision to license the Smalls. So that means we’re going to take a closer look at the background checks that were done. Were all the background checks that are supposed to be done completed? Training? Was all the training done? Was everything done in the way it was supposed to be done?” explained DFPS spokesperson Julie Moody.

On Friday, Texas MENTOR acknowledged that it is reviewing the Small’s account.

“All of us at Texas MENTOR are terribly saddened by this tragedy. As an organization dedicated to protecting and caring for children, we are appalled by the allegations involving one of our foster parents,” said State Director of Texas MENTOR Wendy Bagwell in a written statement.

State records show 15 previous deficiencies at Texas MENTOR, including four cases of improper background checks. DFPS says there are no obvious signs that the Smalls were among those cases.

Sherill Small is in jail on a $100,000 bond. Another child who was in her care at the time Alex died was immediately removed from the home.

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