In Need of Care

Mother admits forcefully bouncing baby on her knee, child-in-need-of-care petition says

A 23-year-old mother told a detective she grew frustrated with her 5-month-old boy when he wouldn’t calm down and bounced him on her knee “at a force level of eight out of 10” to try to quiet him.

The baby suffered a brain bleed, a condition doctors had previously treated him for, a child-in-need-of-care petition filed Nov. 24 on behalf of him and an older child alleges.

“Mother reported when she learned (the baby) had a brain bleed, she immediately thought back to Nov. 13, 2014, when she bounced (him) on her knee in a forceful manner,” the petition says.

The Eagle has been reviewing child-in-need-of-care cases regularly since February as part of its “In Need of Care” series. The Eagle is not identifying any of the children or their parents.

The number of reports of child abuse and neglect in Sedgwick County has increased 31 percent since 2009, records from the state show.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families, the state agency that investigates child abuse and neglect, received 12,989 reports in Sedgwick County in the state fiscal year that ended June 30. The department, formerly known as SRS, assigned 7,438 of those intakes to a social worker for further review.

From July to October, the latest statistics available, the DCF received 4,034 reports of child abuse in Sedgwick County. The department assigned 2,367 of those reports to social workers for further review, records show.

The mother, who is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond on a charge of child abuse, told the detective that she did not initially tell him or a social worker from the state about it “because of the fear of what she did,” the petition says.

Police put the baby and the older child, listed as 1 year old in court documents, in protective custody Nov. 20. The baby, now living with a relative, suffered a subdural hematoma and had healing rib fractures that were “non-accidental in nature,” the petition says.

Doctors cared for the baby at Wesley Medical Center.

The mother is scheduled to be in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing in the criminal case against her.

In October, the petition says, the mother took the baby to Wesley’s emergency room after a doctor had seen him for a well-child appointment.

The mother had scheduled the appointment “due to concerns of (the baby’s) head size. It was discovered at that time that (he) had a brain bleed. Mother reported that approximately one month ago, (the baby) was picked up by his face and slammed down by (his father), which caused (him) to have bruises,” the petition says.

“Mother stated that during the weekend of Sept. 13, 2014, the children were taken to Wichita (by the baby’s father),” the petition says. “When they arrived back at her residence (the father) did not want Mother to remove (the baby) from his car seat.”

After he left, the petition says, she got the baby out of the car seat and noticed bruises on him. She filed a report with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and the DCF in McPherson County, which are investigating, the petition says. The father of the baby also is 23 years old. The Eagle could not find any charges against him in either McPherson or Marion counties.

At that time, the Wesley doctor and DCF social workers believed that the mother’s explanation was consistent with the baby’s injuries, the petition says.

A detective and social worker interviewed the mother Nov. 20, and she said she was the only person who had cared for the baby since he got out of the hospital in October.

In November, the boy suffered a new subdural hemorrhage attributed to the mother bouncing the baby on her knee, court records say.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

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