DCFS: 47 lbs, 15-year-old boy improving, policy changes to be implemented

Records requested from La.'s Department of Child and Family Services
The house where the 15-year-old boy was found by BRPD. (Source: WAFB)
The house where the 15-year-old boy was found by BRPD. (Source: WAFB)
The house where the 15-year-old boy was found by BRPD. (Source: WAFB)
The house where the 15-year-old boy was found by BRPD. (Source: WAFB)
Rose Holland (Source: EBRSO)
Rose Holland (Source: EBRSO)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Suzy Sonnier said Thursday afternoon that policy changes will happen immediately.

DCFS case workers will now work with a team of medical professionals to help them evaluate whether parents/caretakers are capable of caring for special needs, non-verbal children.

"Children like him have no one else to speak up for them except the community, except departments like mine," said Sonnier.

The case behind this change is what police say happened Wednesday on N. 46th St. BRPD said they rescued a 15-year-old boy while he was having a seizure. He weighed just 47 pounds and was starving.

"Growing up in this area, it's sad that we've allowed something like this to happen," said Rep. Alfred C. Williams, D-Baton Rouge. "It has struck a nerve."

"It is horrific. Just like you and I and everyone else in the community is outraged that we would find a child in a situation like law enforcement found yesterday," said Sonnier.

Sonnier said the boy is doing much better since being rescued.

She also addressed questions about reports that family members had previously called DCFS. Sonnier said when workers went to check on the boy in the past, they saw no signs of abuse or neglect. She said the last visit was not in the past month, but she did not say exactly when workers last came to his home.

"I'm not sure that I can communicate that information to you at this time. I know everyone is aware of our confidentiality rules," said Sonnier.

She also addressed a letter from Rep. Williams that was hand-delivered and emailed to Sonnier on Thursday.

"The state had an obligation I believe once they were called to investigate this, investigate it fully, and make sure that this young man was in a safe environment," said Rep. Williams.

Sonnier said she was too busy investigating the case to take a moment and sit down with Rep. Williams, but she insists her department is doing everything it can to make sure something as allegedly awful as this never happens again.

"No cover-up. I sincerely was sitting in this room working with my staff to find out what was going on. There's no cover-up," said Sonnier.

"I don't have an opinion who's at fault, but I'm surely going to get to the bottom of it," said Rep. Williams. "We want to make sure that he's placed in a safe, comfortable environment and gets what he needs to live a comfortable life."

Rep. Williams said he wants the results of a full investigation by Wednesday, July 15.

The boy's mother, 49-year-old Rose Holland, remains locked-up on child cruelty and crack-cocaine charges. The District Attorney's Office says Holland will appear in court Friday morning.

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