Vetting Caregivers: Recent Abuse Cases Illustrate Need To Guard Child Welfare

By Jeff Neumeyer

February 21, 2013 Updated Feb 21, 2013 at 7:00 PM EST

INDIANA, (www.incnow.tv) --- Making good choices about who to put in charge of your children.

Some high-profile child abuse and neglect cases in our area are raising red flags.

Some of the bigger problems involve boyfriends or male friends taking care of children, and then getting in trouble.

The director of the local child protection agency called "SCAN" says gender is not the issue, that rather it's about being careless regarding whom to trust your kids with.

This week, Zachery Walsh of Columbia City was charged with child molesting, after police say he fondled a three-year old girl that the mom left in his care.

Don Riddle faces child neglect causing death charges in Marion.

A friend left two-year old Arianna Carmack with him.

She was found dead in her crib with severe burns.

He admits he never checked on the girl the entire time mom was gone.

Antonio Henderson pleaded guilty late last year to battery and neglect, after police say he punched and choked his girlfriend’s young children, and even threatened to stick the kids in with a caged snake.

The worst case dates back to Christmas time 2011, when Michael Plumadore killed and dismembered the body of Aliahna Lemmon, who was left in his care by her Fort Wayne mom, along with two of her other children.

Plumadore is serving life in prison without possibility of parole.

Rachel Tobin-Smith from SCAN says these are painful lessons that should not be ignored.

" You just don't know what their limit is and whether or not they're going to snap, or whether they're going to have the same level of love and caring for your child, and I always say if you don't know the person for 6 months to a year, this is not who you want to be leaving with your children," said Tobin-Smith, who is SCAN’s executive director.

Tobin-Smith says it’s a good idea to do background checks on prospective child caregivers, though she concedes that can be uncomfortable when you’re talking about a boyfriend or girlfriend.

SCAN operates the "Daybreak" children's program, where trained people can come to your home and give you a temporary break from parenting responsibilities, to relieve stress and head off a possible tragedy like some of the ones we’ve seen in the news lately.




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