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Foster mother had 5 abuse complaints

March 18, 2010 | 12:10 pm
The South Los Angeles foster mother under investigation in the fatal beating of a 2-year-old child had been the subject of five previous child-abuse complaints, including one substantiated allegation that she had severely neglected her own biological child in 2002, confidential records show.

Kiana Barker's troubled history, coming in the wake of disclosures about her live-in boyfriend's criminal record, has raised questions about how she could have been approved last year as a foster parent by child-welfare authorities. Under state rules, both adults should have been disqualified from caring for or living with foster children.

Barker's home was supposed to have been a refuge for Viola Vanclief, born in 2007 to a schizophrenic mother who proved dangerously neglectful when off her medications. Instead, confidential child-welfare records reviewed by The Times show, Viola was moved from one high-risk home to another.

After Viola's March 4 death, Barker told investigators that the toddler had been trapped in a bed frame and that she accidentally struck the child with a hammer while trying to free her, according to coroner's records. Viola had multiple bruises on her body, the records say. The death was deemed a homicide caused by blunt-force trauma.Read the full story here.

--Garrett Therolf