Sarah Stevens has been arrested after she refused to stop breastfeeding her eight-month-old baby boy, who died after she was ordered to do so.
Ryder Salmen died of a overdose months after Stevens was found to have high levels of methodone in her system. She has been charged with murder.
Methodone is often used by addicts to wean off of heroin. Officials say that Salmen died due to ingesting Xanax, methadone and the painkiller Opana.
The strange case began when Ryder, then four months old, was brought to a hospital because he was lethargic. Social workers found he was at risk.
Stephens was warned that in order to keep custody, she'd have to stop nursing. She did not do so, reports indicate, and her child paid with his life.
A safety plan was required for him to remain in his mother's custody, however, a CPS manager did not approve the safety assessment for three months.
That gap has experts questioning the charges against Stephens.
Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, said it "undermines the confidence" in CPS.
"Is it their policy to wait three months to approve safety assessments for the children of drug-addicted mothers?" Howard said, according to The Sacramento Bee.
In a written response, the deputy director of CPS said the safety assessment should be approved by a supervisor upon completion by a social worker.
"However, there are occasions when a time lapse occurs between the review of the safety assessment and the (approval)," Michelle Callejas said.
On the same day the first safety assessment was approved, the agency created a second assessment which said Ryder faced a low risk of future mistreatment.
But, then there's this: Shortly after completing its second assessment, CPS officials say they received a report from police questioning Ryder's safety.
A Citrus Heights police officer cited his mother for child endangerment when the car she was driving, with Ryder in the back seat, went off the road.
Based on the records, CPS apparently did not complete another risk assessment after the car accident. Ryder died less than a month after the report.
It appears as if something, or several things, fell through cracks with this plan and it was never agreed upon by managers - all while Stephens cared for the child.
Clearly, prosecutors feel that Stevens, regardless of her condition, was still able to make parental decisions or they would not have charged with murder.
The warnings, they say, should have been heeded, regardless of the bureaucratic issues that may have kept the case from being closely monitored.
Do you agree? Or should she face lesser charges or none at all, given her addiction struggles and the lack of intervention when it was most needed?