LEE COUNTY, Fla.-WINK News is learning new information about two case workers, fired, after the death of Michael McMullen. The 3-year-old died from being wrapped so tightly in a blanket, he couldn't break free.
The child care workers were employed by Lutheran Services, that's the same organization involved in the Christine Reimer case. She's the mom accused of kidnapping her daughter earlier this month. Since this incident, we found out the agency is making changes.
Police say Cristine Reimer kidnapped her daughter during a court ordered visit, and that's where the case connects to Michael McMullen's, Lutheran Services handled both. But tonight, a source tells WINK News, the case workers in the Reimer case are not the ones involved in the McMullen case.
WINK News has learned a change in policy and procedures are in the works at Lutheran Services. The organzation is under the watchful eye of the Children's Network of Southwest Florida. Lutheran Services takes over cases, handed off by the Department of Children and Families.
The kidnapping case involving Christine Reimer and her daughter Crystal, earlier this month. This prompted the organization to take a closer look at its safety plan.
It's not clear what those new polices and procedures will include, but it will be a way to help workers better manage their cases.
Child welfare workers at Lutheran Services were handling the case of Michael McMullen and his family. The three-year-old boy died almost a week ago.
Deputies say his "god mother"-- Donella Trainor, wrapped him so tight in six layers of blankets, he could not breathe.
Trainor, along with the toddler's grandmother Gale Watkins, and step-father Douglas Garrigus are behind bars charged with his murder.
Deputies say they did nothing as the boy begged to be released.
According to Children's Services of Southwest Florida, the family involved in the McMullen case was not forth coming as they could have been and didn't provide accurate information when asked.
Children's Services say they are heart broken and distraught and looking for answers as well.
Below is a statement from Samuel Sipes, President and CEO of Lutheran Services Florida.
"Lutheran Services Florida is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Michael McMullen allegedly at the hands of adults responsible for his care.
As an organization that is dedicated to protecting at risk children, we are participating in an exhaustive joint review of this case to determine the facts of the case and if anything could have been done to prevent this tragedy. The initial review determined two LSF employees failed to follow policies. They were immediately terminated. While these policy violations did not cause the death of Michael, LSF will not rest until all questions are answered so we can ensure the safety of children in our care.
As an organization, we are working side by side with law enforcement and state authorities to get to the bottom of how Michael died.
Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Michael McMullen."
WINK News also found out The Department of Children and Families is also going to implement new changes to it's investigation policy, sometime next year.
This includes the following:
Additional focus on infants and toddlers: Safety guidelines should provide additional focus on the youngest children, those between the ages of 0-3 who are at the greatest risk for serious injuries due to maltreatment.
Real time quality assurance: “Real time” quality assurance methods should be implemented to provide coaching and feedback to investigators, case managers and their supervisors on open cases.
More frequent monitoring of safety plans: Safety should be monitored more frequently. If there is a safety plan in place, the investigation should not be closed until case management services are in place.
Second-party consultations: Investigators should have timely access to experts regarding assessment and treatment of substance abuse, mental health and domestic violence during child protective investigations.
Emphasis on chronically neglecting families: The model should expand its focus to protecting children in current danger as well as preventing at-risk children from becoming endangered. Many families live in a “sea of risk” that may not pose an immediate danger to a child, but the cumulative effect of chronic safety threats can significantly impact a child’s well-being.