Child Welfare Agency Had Open Case On Camden Mom [AUDIO/VIDEO]
The Department of Children and Families says it had an open case on the Camden mother who apparently decapitated her son before fatally stabbing herself Wednesday morning.
The DCF says they had been regularly monitoring and providing counseling to Chevonne Thomas. They also said they visited with the family.
"The services were extensive and included therapeutic reunification services, individual counseling and medication monitoring, substance abuse testing and treatment, parental capacity evaluation, job training and child care. Our staff visited with the family regularly, and was in communication with all service providers" said Kristine Brown, spokeswoman for New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
But some continue to question the agency's performance.
"A recent federal monitor's report has indicated troubles with the agency in the past. Problems with investigating, problems with case planning, problems in that families are not as engaged as they should be," said Mary Coogan, assistant director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
Thomas only recently regained custody of son Zahree after allegedly leaving the boy unattended in a car, telling police she had smoked marijuana laced with the hallucinogenic drug PCP and blacked out in a nearby park.
"A child should not be going back home to a parent if the parent still has an addiction problem, so typically there are urine screenings done, etc, to see if the parent is really clean" said Coogan. "We have to see where the investigation goes, but if anything, this should be a teachable moment so that something like this doesn't happen again, especially if all the proper procedures were followed."
Meanwhile, the DCF says the investigation into the mother and child's death will continue.
"As with all child deaths due to suspected abuse or neglect, we will vigorously investigate the circumstances around the death of Zahree Thomas, as well as his mother Chevonne."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)