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(New Jersey) Man faults DYFS after son's near drowning

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Old July 4th 03, 08:38 AM
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Default (New Jersey) Man faults DYFS after son's near drowning

0.xml Man faults DYFS after son's near drowning
Dad cites prior allegation of neglect against baby's foster parents
Friday, July 04, 2003
Star-Ledger Staff
A Wildwood man whose 18-month-old son nearly drowned in a foster home said
the state should have looked more closely at prior allegations of neglect
in the household. Michael Rugg Sr., whose son Mikey Rugg is in critical
condition with damaged lungs, said the state Division of Youth and Family
Services cleared the foster parents of a neglect allegation less than two
months before his son was found floating in their pool while in their care
on Sunday. "DYFS should have looked a little harder the first time, and in
this case where Michael almost drowned. Both foster parents said they were
in the back yard at the time of the incident," Rugg said. Rugg said he and
his wife, Sherry, have been fighting with DYFS officials to remove their
son from the foster parents, whose identity is protected by state privacy
laws, since they learned in May that the agency had investigated the
couple. A spokesman for DYFS, Joe Delmar, said the May allegation that the
couple had left Mikey and other children in the house alone was unfounded.
He said the agency is investigating the pool incident. "The child was in
the back yard with the foster parents. They turned around for a minute and
in that minute he was found floating in the swimming pool," Delmar said.
"Criminally, it may appear to be an accident, but we have different
standards which require us in this case to look at any lack of supervision
possibly related to the incident," Delmar said. "As they proceed with this
investigation, they will take into account any prior referrals to make a
determination." Mikey Rugg is in Cooper Medical Center in Camden.
A lawyer for the Ruggs, Gil Scutti, said DYFS had not been able to provide
the Ruggs with clear answers about the incident at the Gloucester Township
foster home "It is truly beyond my comprehension how this baby can be in a
pool and be in the hospital in critical condition and no one can say how he
got in the pool or how long he was in there," Scutti said. Scutti said he
will look into whether DYFS was on notice that the foster parents were not
reliable. "Many times the reports about foster care have to do with abuse,
not neglect, but unfortunately, the consequences of neglect can be far
worse than abuse," Scutti said. Rugg's wife suffered severe postpartum
depression after giving birth to Mikey and he and his two sisters were
taken away by the state in September, Rugg said. The children were removed
from the home after their mother stabbed their father. "So many things are
going wrong now that the state has the children," Rugg said. "My daughters
were just moved to a new foster home. My son is in the hospital. I just
want us all to be together again." Copyright 2003 NJ.com. All Rights

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