Neighbors of Kimberly Losurdo say they called DCF on her multiple times
10:35 PM, Dec 28, 2012
12:26 PM, Dec 29, 2012
HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla - Concern for the well-being of Kimberly Losurdo's children was brewing months before two of her children ate crack cocaine.
A female neighbor, who asked not to be identified, told ABC Action News she called the Department of Children and Families months ago to report Losurdo. The call was placed after the woman witnessed Losurdo's children out late at night on multiple occasions.
"Middle of the afternoon, late at night in their jammies riding up and down on a school night as late as ten or twelve at night," the neighbor explained.
The neighbor noted seeing DCF workers coming and going from the home but grew upset the children weren't removed until after the kids tested positive for cocaine this week.
"There is nothing anyone can say about this. It is horrific," she added.
On Thursday, Hernando County deputies reported that a 9-year-old tested positive after being hospitalized with severe symptoms.
Early Thursday morning, the 9-year-old was taken by Fire Rescue to a local hospital. Investigators say the child was experiencing convulsions, seizures and loss of consciousness.
During an interview, the child told investigators Losurdo was seen smoking, snorting and ingesting drugs.
According to a sheriff's statement, the child found an "irregular shaped, rock like" substance in a bathroom and swallowed it on or around Christmas Day.
The child then became ill and slowly deteriorated until being hospitalized.
Detectives questioned Losurdo, who told them she had been around the child for 5 -7 days. She admitted to smoking crack at the home and said the child apparently came across a piece and thought it was candy or a pill, according to the statement.
On Friday, an 11-year-old child taken out of Losurdo's custody tested positive for cocaine.
DCF officials could not speak specifically about Losurdo's case but ABC Action News learned the agency was working with the mother for several months before this week's incident.
Terri Durdaller, communications director for the SunCoast Region of DCF, said all calls are taken seriously and members of the public often misunderstand how the department works and what its goals are.
"There is not one thing that triggers a removal in a home," said Durdaller. "We can't go in and say we see this so we have to remove them now."
When calls are made to the hotline a counselor evaluates the allegations and information given. Durdaller said all calls are taken seriously. However, in order for a full blown investigation to be launched certain criteria must be met like a document history of abuse in the family or multiple calls regarding the same children.
Durdaller said often times, everyone who plays a role in the child's life will be interviewed to get a full idea of what is going on inside the home. Should investigators find proof a child is being neglected or abused, a case worker is assigned to the case.
However, in order for a child to be removed from a home, not only is proof needed, but a judge has to agree to the removal.
Durdaller said in cases where parents or a parents are doing illegal drugs, investigators have to prove the drug use is impacting their parenting. However, the main goal of DCF is to keep families united.
"We look to keep families together, it is our goal," Durdaller explained.
Case worker do come to homes with drug tests but the parent or guardian can refuse to take the test. Another problem case workers run into is parents who are abusing drugs who pass a drug test because they haven't used in recent days and the drugs have cleared their system.
Should a parent or guardian decline to take the drug test, the case worker can seek a court order.
A male neighbor, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, believes case workers missed obvious clues pointing to abuse and neglect.
"The mother isn't there," he explained. "She doesn't do anything."
He has see Losurdo walking her children to the bus stop on occasion. He said the children looked sleep deprived.
"Some days they would be at the stop and then wouldn't be there the next few days," he said.
This neighbor also noted that when Losurdo was with her children in public she acted and dressed inappropriately.
"Six inch heels and a see-through dress at a bus stop don't really work," he said.
News that both children are going to be OK has given concerned neighbors some relief.
Losurdo also lost custody of her 16-year-old. It will be up to a judge to decide when and if she will ever regain custody of her three children.
Losurdo remains behind bars and is facing two counts of child abuse.
Despite calling DCF, under state law investigators cannot update the caller on the case or what is being done to follow up on their report. Durdaller said gives people who report suspected abuse and neglect the false impression that nothing is being done or their was no follow up.