Grandma: Eain Brooks Also Fell Through Niagara Co. Safety Net

7:09 PM, Oct 11, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Ever since Eain Brooks, 5, was killed allegedly at the hands of his mother's boyfriend, some of the child's relatives have said calls to Erie County Child Protective services regarding the boys welfare had been ignored.

The county has since fired two case workers, and suspended two more, as well as appointed new leadership to its Child Protective division of its Social Services department.

Now one family member says New York State ought to be looking even further.

Eain's paternal grandmother, Tammi Garcia, says she is encouraged about Erie County's reforming its child protective operation, and the state's ongoing investigation of 200 open child abuse cases in the Buffalo area.

However, she believes Niagara County should subject to a similar review, and wonders if Eain fell through the cracks, when he lived there in his first years.

"When Eain lived in North Tonawanda, which was pretty much day he was born until he was about two, there were four reports (of suspected abuse) made," Garcia told WGRZ-TV.

"There's nothing in the records that indicate that there was a report made which pertains to Eain Brooks," said Niagara County Commissioner of Social Services Anthony Restaino.

Restaino noted, however, that doesn't necessarily mean they weren't called.

It's just that protocol directs that anyone who calls to report child abuse, is first directed to call a hotline, run by the NY State Office of Children and Family Services, which has oversight of all county child protective service agencies.

"The procedure would be that if somebody called, they would be directed to call the hotline," said Restaino. "Everything needs to be registered through the State of New York because they actually are the ones who log in all of these reports state wide."

Restaino explained the state would also have access to data indicating whether an abuser or a victim had ever been involved in a prior case.

"They may also be able to see that there could be a pattern...maybe this individual previously lived in another county and that information would then be sent to us. They will also screen the call to basically determine if there is something credible here," Restaino said.

According to Restaino the state office is the one which determines if abuse claims are credible enough to then direct a county office to then launch a local investigation.

A spokesperson for the state agency also noted the state has the resources to operate its hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and insisted "the most highly trained professionals" screen the calls.

She also said the hotline handles approximately 300,000 calls annually, one third of which, she estimated, are not investigated further because they lack specific, or credible information.

Both she and Restaino added that while all suspicions should be reported to the hotline, anyone actually witnessing abuse should call the police, who can take the swiftest action to protect the victim.

Meanwhile, Garcia believes Eain's mother bears some responsibility toward his death.

"She should be held accountable for this," Garcia said, claiming that Eain's mother had several boyfriends over the course of Eain's brief life who were abusive.

"I went to the west side (of Buffalo) in August of 2012, to get her out an abusive relationship with the last boyfriend....there's just some things a woman has to be able to do. And if you're old enough to be a mother, you're old enough to be accountable for what happens to your child," she said.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 on Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer.

Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2


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