Los Angeles paramedics found Salamon Santoyo, 10, bleeding to death from a gash in the neck in August. His mother, who had regained custody of the boy four days before his death, is accused of his murder. She has pleaded not guilty. The Los Angeles Times says the death is the latest in a succession of child murders – six in the last four years – in which children who had been removed by the county from abusive or neglectful situations died after being returned to their parents. “Life is just not a crystal ball,” said L.A. County Superior Court Judge Michael Nash, who presides over the juvenile court. “The system has never worked as well as it should. But it is moving in the right direction.”
Salomon was returned home after 16 months in foster care under the family reunification philosophy in a 1984 law that returns children to once-abusive homes after the parents have successfully completed such requirements as counseling and parenting classes, and are considered no longer likely to harm their children. About 10,000 children in Los Angeles County are removed from their parents’ custody each year because of abuse or neglect. Roughly 5,000 children are returned home annually. Of those reunited with families, about 3 percent – or 170 children a year – are removed again.