Southern Arizona | Investigating 4 You

N4T Investigators: Troubling Transport

TUCSON – News 4 Tucson is committed to keeping your kids safe at home and on the road. It’s one reason why reports of improper use of car seats by employees with the Arizona Department of Child Safety are so troubling.

Cell phone video obtained by the News 4 Tucson Investigators nearly three years ago showed an eight-month-old boy being placed in a front-facing car seat, over the protests of the boy’s father.

The baby was being transported by a DCS contract worker.

The child’s grandmother told the News 4 Tucson investigators, she spoke with several people at DCS, but her concerns were not addressed.

“They didn’t accept any responsibility. They didn’t even say they would look into it. It was just a line of excuses,” she told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Even more troubling, the News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned that not much has changed since our 2016 investigation.

One Tucson foster mom who wanted to remain anonymous told the news four Tucson investigators she was shocked when she witnessed the same thing earlier this year.

It happened when a DCS visitation aide came to pick up her 11-week-old foster baby.

“I immediately quickly walked out to her vehicle, and informed her he is an infant, and he needs to be in a rear-facing car seat, and she needs to turn him around, before she can leave with him,” the foster mother told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Things quickly escalated when the foster mom insisted the baby boy be taken out of the front-facing seat, and placed into a rear-facing seat – a practice recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children under the age of two.

“I asked her – please unbuckle him and hand him to me, so you can go ahead and fix the car seat, and she refused, and said no he’s fine,” the foster mom told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

The foster mom also told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that she is not alone.

“I’ve heard other parents with their horror-stories of the same incident, but I had never witnessed it, until this time,” she said.

As in the previous case the News 4 Tucson Investigators uncovered back in 2016, this foster mom immediately reported the incident to DCS.

“To know that this is an actual DCS worker that did not know how to properly install this car seat; how to have this child positioned in this car is extremely scary, because again, this is not a third-party, this is DCS,” she said.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators reached out to the Arizona Department of Child Safety for answers.

In an emailed statement, they told us in part:

DCS case aides participate in case aide core training, which includes a segment on safely transporting children. It goes on to say that all DCS employees are aware that they must safely transport children at all times, and that any egregious or repeated violation of DCS policy or state law could result in an employee’s termination.

In the end, the foster mom told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, she just wants DCS to be held to the same standards as foster parents, and to treat the children in their care as they would their own.

“We as foster parents are held accountable for our actions with these children. I would like them to hold their workers accountable, and to make sure that proper training is put forth and implemented.” she said.

Of course, the News 4 Tucson Investigators will continue to monitor this situation.

If you have something you would like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham is an Edward R. Murrow Award winning broadcast journalist and Investigative Producer with the News 4 Tucson Investigators. Paul is a Tucson native, UA graduate, and licensed private investigator.
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