DHR discusses protocol after infant death - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

DHR discusses protocol after infant death

Sergino Larenta Richard (Source: Madison Co. Jail) Sergino Larenta Richard (Source: Madison Co. Jail)

An investigator for the Department of Human Resources visited the home of Sergino Richard the day before he allegedly murdered his infant son. The investigator determined the infant was not at risk in the home.

Director of the Madison County Department of Human Resources, Tonita Phipps, said she could not talk about specifics of the case, but talked about the protocol for investigating allegations of child neglect or abuse. The Madison County DHR gets an average of 250 calls a month about possible kids in danger. The department must respond to the report within five days. An investigator will then go to the house and interview all household members, children and neighbors.

DHR investigated the house where Richard and his son were living after hearing reports of neglect. According to Phipps when investigators are looking for signs of neglect they, “Look in cabinets to determine if there’s adequate food, adequate shelter, adequate clothing,” Phipps said.

If investigators determine the child is not safe, they can remove the child from the home immediately.

“We would look at whether the child may be beaten from head to toe, whether we receive a call from the hospital,” Phipps said. “A lot of it depends on the information we receive first hand and from the surroundings we find when we go into the home.”

However, an investigator can never be completely sure of what’s going on.

“We never know one hundred percent of the time,” Phipps said. “We’re going off information we received and those we’ve spoken with to determine whether a child needs to be removed from the home or not.”

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