A young child found unconscious in his Gallup foster home remains in critical condition with permanent brain damage.
The 18-month-old boy was found face down in a bathtub, unconscious and cold. He was rushed to a Gallup medical clinic before being airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
Police say the child’s foster mother, Cleo Juan, confessed to abusing the boy while bathing him Tuesday.
“Her reasoning: She was supposed to be on anti depressants, which she hadn’t been taking,” said Detective Erin Pablo.
Police reports say the boy had a “significant hemorrhage to the brain” from “a significant amount of force” to his head.
Those reports also say this is the child’s second trip to the hospital in two weeks.
“The child was taken to RMCH [Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital],” Pablo said. “I don’t know the reason for that, but she had said abuse had taken place during that time, causing the child to be taken to the hospital.”
Relatives: Juan cared for eight people
Juan’s sister, Paula Lee, said that Juan had repeatedly asked for help dealing with the five foster children from the state Children Youth and Families Department. In addition to the foster children, Juan cared for a child of her own and her sister.
“CYFD did nothing to help her out by taking kids away from her,” Lee said.
A Children, Youth and Families Department spokesperson said that the department relies on foster parents to keep them informed about how many children they can handle. The department sets no limit on the number of foster kids who are allowed in a family.
It’s not clear whether Juan called CYFD, because state law doesn’t allow the department to release information about specific cases.
The agency says that social workers check on both foster parents and their kids on a regular basis, through both scheduled and random visits. Foster parents are also required to notify CYFD about medications they’re taking, but the agency doesn’t check to see if they’re taking those medications.
KOBTV.com’s Reed Upton contributed to this report.