The 3-year-old girl found drowned at the bottom of an apartment building pool on Monday was under the protective supervision of Hennepin County, records show.
That supervision had been in place since November, when police briefly removed the girl, Corrianah Wright, and her six siblings from their parents’ Brooklyn Park home. One of the children had severe injuries consistent with child abuse, which could not be explained by her parents.
After 72 hours, child protection placed the 1-year-old in foster care, but returned Corrianah and five of her siblings to the home, where a judge imposed protective supervision. That requires the county to closely monitor a parent.
“The department is concerned that [the children] remain vulnerable to physical abuse,” the county said in a November 2014 petition asking for court intervention.
On Sunday, Corrianah left her home with other children and did not come back. She died in a swimming pool near her home.
Her mother, Mykeisha Wright, could not be reached for comment, and on Monday her sister said she did not want to speak to the media.
Brooklyn Park police are still investigating the girl’s drowning, but thus far the department has found no justification for criminal charges, said Deputy Chief Mark Bruley.
“This is pointing to nothing more than a tragic accident,” Bruley said.
Can’t ‘predict the future’
The county’s child protection system came under criticism in a report released last week by Casey Family Programs, a national child welfare group, which found that child safety was compromised due to lack of funding, overloaded case workers, and policies that closed cases without helping children.
Corrianah’s death is the sixth in Hennepin County since the start of 2014 where a child’s caregivers were known to child protection, the Star Tribune has found, and the second in the last week. Two-year-old Sophia O’Neill of Minneapolis died on June 10 after being beaten by her mother’s boyfriend, prosecutors say.
Janine Moore, the area director of Hennepin County’s Children and Family Services Department, would not speak about any of the cases, but said, “I wouldn’t necessarily say because of one tragedy that we need to overhaul our system, but we do need to continue to improve.”
“The challenge in child protection is that we don’t have an ability to manage or predict the future of what parents do, especially when they are demonstrating that they have remedied the issues that have brought them to us in the first place,” she said. “Unless you’re going to terminate every parent’s parental rights when they’re brought into our system, we can’t guarantee that a parent will never abuse or neglect their child.”
Wright, Corrianah’s mother, has been known to child protection since December 2008, when Hennepin County offered her parenting services due to the educational neglect of her children, records show. She completed her case plan and the case was closed.
In October 2012, the county again offered Wright parenting services following a neglect report after her 12-year-old son approached Minneapolis police officers at 9:50 at night to get a ride home. She declined the services, calling the situation a misunderstanding, and the case was closed, according to court records.
After six of her seven children were returned to her in November following the injuries to her 1-year-old child, the court required that Wright take part in parenting programs. Under protective supervision, county social workers made monthly visits to observe her progress.
Records show that Wright followed the county’s case plans, but as of last month child protection wanted her to continue to work on parenting skills such as ensuring “that the home environment is safe,” and to “use her senses to keep in tune to what is happening in her home.”
A visit from child protection was scheduled for Wright and her children on Tuesday, June 9, according to a court record.
Five days later, on Sunday, several of Corrianah’s siblings and friends ages 7 to 15 went to play at the pool, said Bruley, the Brooklyn Park deputy chief. Posted pool rules say that it is for use by residents only, that an adult must accompany anyone under 16 and that pool hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
When they returned to the home without Corrianah, Wright started searching for the girl and then called police two hours later, Bruley said. Around 1 a.m. Monday, a member of the Fire Department saw a “shadow that looked like a toy” in the deep end of the pool, Bruley said. The responder “reached down there with a pole” and confirmed his suspicions, the deputy chief said.
Staff writers David Chanen, Paul Walsh and Karen Zamora contributed to this report