Wrongful death lawsuit names CYFD, foster parent

New Mexico

VALENCIA COUNTY, NM (KRQE) – An amended lawsuit brings on new accusations in the 2017 death of a baby girl in the care of a state-licensed foster parent.

CYFD, social workers, supervisors, and an office manager are now named as defendants in the lawsuit against Stephanie Crownover, a foster mom accused in the December 2017 death of Ariza Barreras in Valencia County.

As KRQE News 13 has reported, the 11-month-old died under Crownover’s care while the usual foster parents were out of town. The Office of the Medical Examiner said Barreras died from pneumonia, which may have been worsened by conditions inside Crownover’s home.

The new lawsuit states CYFD failed to investigate that Crownover had a safe home, and noted Crownover’s “extensive criminal history,” including an aggravated battery arrest.

Additionally, the lawsuit states CYFD had investigated her before, and back in 2012 found that she had given inadequate food and shelter for her granddaughter.

The lawsuit also notes that CYFD employees never kept records of reports or investigations of Crownover’s reported issues as a respite care provider for other families before Barreras died.

The new lawsuit does not list the baby’s original foster parents as defendants in this case, but says they should have never been caring for the 11-month-old and her siblings because there’s no record CYFD ever issued them a foster care license, only one for respite care.

CYFD would not comment on the pending litigation and says three of the supervisors named in the lawsuit are still employed.

Court records show the case will be presented to a grand jury.

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