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Md. Regulators Investigating Foster Child Death

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Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A ten-year-old foster child dies at his Anne Arundel County group home, even as state officials were taking action to shut that facility down.

Derek Valcourt has more on the boy’s death and the state’s investigation.

The little boy died last week. The state is now looking into how he died and if the care he received at his group home may have played a role.

At a Laurel apartment complex, a van parked out front is the only indication of the group home for the developmentally disabled that operated there until recently. But it was in one of those apartments on July 2 that a ten-year-old severely disabled boy died.

An autopsy will determine his exact cause of death, but Maryland Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein says it’s too early to say if a problem with the group home was a factor.

“This particular facility has gotten a lot of scrutiny from our department and the Department of Human Resources over the last few years,” said Sharfstein.

The group home was operated out of the apartments by Lifeline, Inc. — a company contracted with the state to provide 24-hour care for some developmentally disabled children. Their website even touts their services.

But state survey reports show health inspectors found Lifeline in violation of several state regulations earlier this year. Their most recent inspection, after allegations of neglect, found staffing patterns to address the health and safety of the children had not been maintained.

Inspectors were forced to act.

“Basically, they told the facility that we’d probably start the process that would eventually require them to close and they said we’re going to close on our own,” Sharfstein said.

State officials say they’ve been working for weeks to find a new group home for all ten of the children in Lifeline’s Laurel facility — a process that wasn’t completed until the day after the death.

The state department of health and the state department of human resources will both be conducting their own investigation into the boy’s death.

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