Mother Reported to Child Services 3 Times Before Toddler Died

State authorities are currently investigating how child welfare services responded to several reported drug overdoses before a toddler tragically died from drug overdoses in late June.

Whitney Ard, 28, was charged with involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday after investigating the death of her two-year-old son. According to WBRZ, the child was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

TO UPDATE: Ard is now being held in jail as a judge has set her bail.


Arrest records identified the toddler as Mitchell Robinson III and his mother said the 2-year-old boy was acting normally when she picked him up from her mother on June 25. Ard had just been released from prison after being jailed in May following a drugs raid at her home.

According to Ard, the next morning she was in bed with her son when the little boy told her he was hungry.

The mother said she made a bowl of cereal, put it on the floor by her bed for the 2-year-old to eat and fell asleep again. The custody documents said she woke later that morning to find the child back in bed, “cold to the touch, unresponsive, with fingertips, mouth and tongue stained blue.”

When paramedics arrived, they found a friend of Ard’s trying to revive the toddler outside on the sidewalk. After first responders tried medications without success, the mother told paramedics that Narcan had brought her son back in time.

Unfortunately, Narcan wasn’t able to bring the little boy back this time.

After investigators spent a month investigating the toddler’s death, it was determined that he died of a fentanyl overdose. Deputies noted that they had found the corner of a clear plastic bag “with white powdery residue” under the bed near the cereal bowl the boy was eating from.

The WBRZ report says MPs also noted at least two other instances where the boy overdosed, and “both incidents were reported to the Department of Children and Family Services before the child’s death.”

On April 12, health-care workers found the child suffered from respiratory failure and seizure-like symptoms, although his brain activity was inconsistent with a seizure and “no seizure medication was needed,” according to the report. The toddler was eventually released to his mother after being treated with Narcan.

East Baton Rouge coroner Beau Clark called it a “significant failure” after a third overdose was reported to Child Services when a toxicology report “showed fentanyl in the boy’s system.”

A report by the WBRZ Investigative Unit shows the child was not removed from the mother’s care even after the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) became aware of at least three incidents prior to the tragic overdose that claimed the infant’s life .

Ard was charged with involuntary manslaughter with bail set at $50,000 as a result of the investigation.

DCFS released a statement early Wednesday morning showing they are working with the State Inspector General’s office to “review every step of this case.”

Upon learning of this child’s tragedy, we immediately began a comprehensive review of this case and all the circumstances surrounding it. The ministry has already taken numerous steps to make changes, ranging from policy changes to staffing measures. The review is not yet complete. We are also working with the Office of the Inspector General to review each step of this case and cannot comment further.

Check out the full story for more updates on WBRZ here.

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