JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A family whose child was taken away from them by the Florida Department of Children & Families is blaming the system for allowing their 23-month-old son to die. Christina Mantooth and her husband are mourning Gregory Love, who died while living in foster care after his parents failed a drug test.
“He’s never been sick,” Mantooth said of her youngest child. “He was in perfect health. He was a perfect child.”
Christina Mantooth with her husband and four children. Mantooth had her four children taken away by the DCF April 5 for failing a drug test.
“They said as soon as we went back to court, if we passed a drug test at the end of the month, we were getting them back,” she said.
But that was not to be. The DCF divided her children between two families — Love and the 7-year-old with one, the 4- and 5-year-old with another. Mantooth said that when she visited Love at his foster home last week, he appeared to be sick. So she asked her 7-year-old what happened to his brother.
“He said he busted his nose and his lip when he fell off the top bunk bed,” she said.
According to her oldest son, the foster mother put ice on Love’s head when he fell, but she did not take him to a hospital. When Mantooth found out her son did not receive medical attention, she alerted her caseworker, who was supposed to make a doctor’s appointment for Love. But, according to Mantooth, he never made it there.
Five days after visiting her baby, she received the news that Love had died. She couldn’t understand why, and wanted her caseworker to explain.
“I said, ‘You take them from me for doing drugs and give them to somebody (else) to let them die,'” Mantooth said. “She didn’t care. She didn’t care.”
And while she admits she made a mistake in doing drugs to begin with, Mantooth said she never did anything to harm her children.
“I always took care of them,” she said. “They were perfect.”
The DCF is now investigating the incident, questioning all people involved. The DCF wouldn’t speak to the Channel 4 newsroom, but it did release this statement:
“Any death involving a child is a tragedy. Our hearts go out to all the families involved. We are currently investigating the circumstances of the child’s death.”
Still, Mantooth will not be satisfied until the DCF makes some intense changes.
“Whether it’s the foster parents or DCF’s fault, the whole system is responsible,” she said. “I’ll feel that way until the day I die.”