DHS Takes Over Custody of 15-Day-Old Mauled By Rats

Mother speaks out for first time

MAGNOLIA, AR - - For the first time since being arrested for child neglect, a Magnolia mom is speaking out.

19-year-old, Erica Shryock and 18-year-old, Charles Elliott were arrested after their 15-day-old daughter was mauled by rats in her crib.

During their court appearance yesterday, both were ordered to have no contact with children, and were released on bond.

Our sister station in Little Rock spoke with Shryock following the court appearance.

"My daughter got ate on by a rat and it was accidental and she got tooken from me," Shryock said.

The fate of Shryock and Elliott is yet to be determined by a jury of their peers. Also unknown, the future of their infant.

At this point, the Arkansas Department of Human Services now takes over.

"If a child is unsafe in a home, then our division of children family services will bring the child in and they will be entered into the foster care system, and we will work to find a family where the child can stay and have a safe, stable place until they can be reunited with the parent," Amy Webb, Chief of Communications with the Arkansas Department of Human Services said.  

Webb says they hope each child can be reunited with their parents. But the actions of the caretaker will be closely monitored to ensure the child's safety is the top priority.

"We look at the caretakers behavior toward the child, is it violent or out of control? Does the caretaker describe or act toward the child in a negative way? Has the caretaker caused serious physical injury to a child?" Webb said. "There's about 14 or 15 safety factors we look at when trying to assess if its safe to leave a child in a home."

The 15-day-old baby required facial reconstruction surgery. DHS wouldn't comment specifically on this case, but says they will do whatever it takes to make sure any child in their custody receives the medical care they need.

"We are going to do whatever we can to get that child whole and healthy. So we are the caregivers of that child so we will sit at the hospital, we'll make sure the hospital provides all the services that are needed if the child needs surgery or we will try to be there when the child wakes up or have someone who works with us be there, have a foster family be there so the child is not alone," Webb said. 

In the end, an abused or neglected child is never alone. Many hands work together to find the best solution for the little one.

"A judge and attorney, case volunteers, our staff, parent council, all go to court together and a case plan is drawn up for families. And if families can't meet those expectations outlined in a case plan, or if its very clear that this is not an appropriate situation for a child to be in, then a judge will ultimately decide if the person gets to keep their parental rights, And if they do not, than the child will become available for adoption and we would work to get them adopted," Webb said. 

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