EXCLUSIVE: State Returned Children to Home Without Utilities Prior to Fire

children were returned to home by dcs

by Ken Davidson

On January 8, 2014 at 10:30 p.m. 7 month Jayden , 3 year old Alexia and 4 year old Dasani Young tragically died in a fire at 644 Sibley in Hammond. According to published reports, the fire was a result of a space heater being used by the Youngs because the home had no gas or electric service.

The The Gazette has learned exclusively that the Young Children were previously in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services. This revelation would mean that the State was involved in monitoring the living conditions of the Children. While the reason for the children being in foster care has not been revealed, the Gazette has confirmed through multiple sources that all four children were place in foster care for an extended period of time. The children were returned to the home at 644 Sibley on June 1, 2013. If published reports are correct, this would be after gas and electric had been shut off in the home.

The Gazette first learned on January 10 that the children had been in foster care. Since that time, we have been in communication with neighbors and others close to the foster parents.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The Gazette previously used a quote from the foster mother.   We make every effort to ensure that any quote used is accurate and a public statement.  We have spoken with the foster parents in this case and they declined to comment about the specifics of the incident.  While we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the statement, our conversation led us to the mutual conclusion that removing the quote would be best for all involved.

We have also spoken with a representative of the Indiana Department of Children Services who declined to speak to the specifics of the case.  A public records request has been submitted and we expect more information soon.

We will continue to update this story.

16 comments

  • Hammond’s Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr has eliminated several low income rehab program, used to help low income families repair their home.

    McDermott chooses instead to have $275,000 a year spent on a legal clinic so a couple of friends can claim a salary, or give money to a Hammond non for profit so a relative receive a $70,000 a year job, or give money to a couple of attorneys with out a contract for their services.

    A McDermott family member was a fund raising non for profit co chairman, the non for profit received $620,000 from Hammond, yes $620,000! Was that gaming money? $620,000 plus $275,000 would have gone a long way help needy Hammond families.

    But then McDermott’s family wouldn’t have gotten theirs.

  • Perhaps those that are so livid about this incident should establish a fund to assist people in this sort of situation. It will be difficult, no doubt. NWI residents have been conditioned to believe that the answers to all of their ills lie with some government agency. Further, anyone receiving College Bound money should consider foregoing their windfall so that people lacking basic services might receive them. Doing otherwise is putting a price tag on lives, right?

  • Nice job Indiana DFS! You definitely won this case, didn’t you?

  • Pingback: DCS Opens Assessment of Death of Three Children Who Died in Fire | The Northwest Indiana Gazette

  • Too bad someone in Hammond City government didn’t have the moxie to call Family Serv back to tell them utilities were turned off. 3 deaths wouldn’t have happened.

  • Nat McKnight via Facebook

    Unacceptable?! The fact that they couldnt find resolution with NIPSCO is unacceptable. Betting the deposit was too high. NIPSCO is heartless once your shut off just making current is hard And then a huge deposit in the 700/800 range is what they require,.

  • they were in a good loving foster home with A mother that cared and protected them why were they given back to A family who didnt even care that they didnt have the major needs all children should have , this was very selfish of the parents but UNACCEPTABLE by the DCS. we trust them to care for our children!

  • There are a number of people responsible here. Questions on how Hammond Code Enforcement was notified twice utilities turned off, another time Hammond turned off the water, and twice more the father used other houses meters to re establish electricity. Hammond had to be informed.

    How could Hammond, its Code Enforcement Department walk away knowing someone, was living in this house. They didn’t call Child Welfare? They didn’t request police assistance? They didn’t call County Public Health for assistance? Why didn’t they call Child Services?

    Isn’t Calahan quoted stating the increase in rental registration fees was to keep renters safe?

    Maybe, just maybe Hammond’s Code Enforcement instead of being used to go after political candidates, maybe they should have been taken care of situations like this.

    How many more families are living in the same conditions in Hammond?

  • Kathy Davis via Facebook

    WOW

  • Janice Glueckert via Facebook

    With all of the welfare programs available, why did this family not have their gas/electric picked up by the state?

  • Barb Slade via Facebook

    These facts are devastating to say the least, I thought they had lost power in September, how could the state have been so irresponsible?

  • Sad. Once again a bad ending to a DCFS story. This department definitely needs an overhaul. I understand there are big caseloads, but time and time again the children are the losers.

  • Penny Weaver Frazier via Facebook

    Unbelievable! The state has failed children again!

  • Anyone that has EVER dealt with the Indiana DCS wouldn’t be surprised by this…

  • This story has bothered me immensely. I would like to continue to learn more about this.