|Updated: 4/05/2013 9:59 am
||Published: 4/04/2013 5:15 pm
One of the big recommendations in a report released Thursday detailing ways the Department of Human Services can prevent child abuse and neglect deaths was too late for an Owasso toddler.
The report, compiled by the now disbanded DHS Commission, found that DHS needs to do a better job looking into prior abuse claims when it investigates child abuse.
If that had happened two years ago, one little boy now living in Owasso may have had a much different childhood.
Dana Suggs is a mom of six. She has three biological children and three she just adopted after fostering.
“Our first set of foster siblings came to us and there was a history of physical abuse,” she told FOX23.
The abuse suffered by the youngest of those children was at the hands of his biological mother. It is a memory that is hard for Dana to talk about.
“(She was) slamming his head into the wall numerous times, there was blunt force trauma, he had two skull fractures. He was not supposed to make it through the night, that first night,” she said.
Now that baby, Jeremiah, is almost two years old, but Dana still thinks the abuse could have been prevented.
“There were three reports earlier with him and his siblings prior to this last abuse on the baby. I just believe it could have been stopped earlier, I believe our DHS system is completely overwhelmed.”
She agrees with the report's findings that there are dedicated DHS employees, but says nothing short of an overnight overhaul will fix things quickly.
“There's amazing workers out there, amazing workers. They're good, they're kind, they're caring, but there's too many cases for it to be totally effective,” she said.
If and when a report, a change, or a new way for DHS does come around, Dana says her son will be a reminder of how far Oklahoma has come.
“This is the face of a child who made it though.”
The biological mother who abused Jeremiah has been sentenced to 20 years in a state prison.