Suspect’s name in foster child’s death released

Updated: Apr. 18, 2016 at 11:15 PM CDT
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FLETCHER, Okla._Investigators have identified the suspect in the death of a foster child as 24-year-old Heather Adams, the child's foster mother.

Adams is in jail on a complaint of second-degree murder, but she has not been charged. Adams was arrested Monday, shortly after her husband found the child unconscious in their Fletcher home. The baby was taken to Comanche County Memorial Hospital where he later died.

Tuesday, the agency that trained Adams to be a foster parent, Tallgrass Family Services, says they're working to make sure nothing like this happens again.

Not just anyone can be a foster parent. They have a background check that goes beyond criminal, like a health check to see if they can physically and emotionally handle it. The checks have to be taken yearly. They also have to have at least 6 references, most have around 15.

The training consists of small groups that have video training on how to handle the stress that comes with being a foster parent and how to handle trauma. Then, when they pass, Tallgrass doesn't stop there. They say they do in-house checks monthly and they call new foster parents at least every other day.

"Everyone is deeply shocked and heartbroken by the tragic death of a child," said Jeanette Owens, director of Tallgrass Family Services.

Owens says they have been one of three agencies used by Oklahoma's Department of Human Services to recruit, train and support foster parents since 2013. She says first thing Monday morning, Tallgrass started looking at what they can do to make sure this death is an isolated situation.

"We definitely, as an agency, our staff has dedicated their lives and their careers to make sure we are helping children and families. So yeah, we do everything we can to prevent," said Owens.

Owens didn't have an answer as to how something like this could happen, just that they are working with law enforcement and DHS.

"There are dedicated people inside and outside of our organization working diligently to find answers as to what happened. We are committed to the safety of the children we serve," said Owens.

One thing Owens doesn't want from this tragic situation is for all foster parents to be lumped into one category.

"There's not typically a day that goes by that I don't hear a heartwarming story of something one of our parents have done to go above and beyond," said Owens.

Owens says they want to make sure any changes to their policies are the right ones. So, they don't expect any to happen for a few weeks.

The state Department of Human Services also makes monthly visits to foster homes. They released a statement Tuesday about the 2-year-old's death, which said,

"Everyone at DHS is shocked and devastated by the tragic death of this child at a foster home. We are working closely with local law enforcement and Tallgrass on the investigation to find out exactly what happened and why. The safety of the children we serve is our highest priority. We will not rest until we have answers."

Sheriff Kenny Stradley says his investigators are still conducting interviews and hopes to present a case to the District Attorney's office by the end of the week.