Sacramento County Child Protective Services (CPS) is being criticized for its slow response in the case of an 8-month-old boy who died after ingesting his mother's drug-laced milk.
Ryder Salmen died a year ago after overdosing on a fatal mix of Xanax, methadone and Opana. Court documents said the infant's mother had been warned five months before to stop breastfeeding due to the high levels of methadone found in the baby's bloodstream.
The Sacramento Bee obtained documents showing after the hospital visit, social workers determined Ryder was at risk, but it took a CPS manager three months to approve the safety assessment.
Ed Howard, from the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law says, "Is it their policy to wait three months to approve safety assessments for the children of drug-addicted mothers? This undermines the confidence about whether Sacramento County CPS is doing its job."
CPS also got a report from police questioning the baby's safety, after an officer cited the mother for child endangerment when she drove her car off the road while her son was with her.
CPS apparently did not finish another risk assessment after the car accident. Ryder died less than a month later.
The baby's mother, Sarah Ann Stephens, 32, was recently charged with murder and two counts of child endangerment.