A social worker urged that 2-year-old Kira Friedman be removed from her foster parents more than a year before the girl drowned in their home, according to court records.
Emelie Rivera, an intake and assessment coordinator with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, filed a report in March 2015 listing concerns about past abuse allegations and poor supervision in the Bemidji foster home of Nathan Jackson and Amanda Darlyne White, where Kira had been since December 2014.
About two months later, Leech Lake accepted jurisdiction over the case following a request by Rivera. However, over the next year the tribe still kept the girl in the foster home, which was licensed by Leech Lake.
Kira’s grandmother, Penny Wait, said she was aware of concerns at the home before the girl died, but could not reach a tribal social worker after the case had been transferred.
“Leech Lake would never answer us,” she said.
Jackson, 38, has been charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter after he told police that he left Kira unattended in a shower with an 18-gallon plastic bin on June 5, according to the criminal charge. He told police that when he returned the tote was full of water. Kira was nonverbal and just learned to walk eight days before her second birthday in April.
Jackson and White’s foster home had been investigated at least three times since April 2013 for alleged neglect. Each was unsubstantiated, according to court records.
In her March 2015 report, Rivera wrote that with eight children in the home, “this agency has received multiple reports, since the time of [Kira’s] placement that there is significant discord in the home between biological and foster children.”
She also wrote that “issues of past supervision” resulted in “serious injury to a former foster child and a facility investigation.”
Rivera noted that no maltreatment was found in that investigation, however another inquiry in January 2015 followed “significant bruising on one of the foster children. It was found that the biological children of the foster parent had assaulted the child,” she wrote.
Rivera declined to comment for this story. A Leech Lake spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
A St. Louis County social worker, Michelle Pederson, wrote in an April 2015 court report that she had no concerns about Kira being in the foster home, and noted that the girl was placed there at the request of her biological mother. The foster parents were being considered as possible adoptive parents for the girl, Pederson wrote.
“Kira is doing well and appears to be happy and attached” to the foster parents, she wrote.