11-month-old girl dies in foster home in New Jersey

May 16, 2013 5:31:31 AM PDT
Officials in New Jersey are investigating the case of an 11-month-old girl who died in foster care.

Instead of planning Kaniiyah Ealey's 1st birthday party, her mother is making arrangements for the baby's funeral.

Kaniiyah spent most of her life in foster care with her brothers while their mother Kenyatta worked on her sobriety, trusting the system would keep them safe.

"She's not even a year old and she killed my baby. She killed my baby," said Kenyatta Ealey, the victim's mother.

Sources say the 11-month-old drowned during a bath at her foster mother's Newark home.

The state's Department of Children and Families put out this statement saying it "is working closely with law enforcement to investigate an allegation of neglect regarding supervision of this child in the bathtub."

And, "there are no prior investigations regarding the care of foster children in this home. The child's caseworker last visited the home on May 2, 2013."

The Medical Examiner's office is running an autopsy, and Newark Police officers are investigating, but won't give much detail about the case.

"I don't have any comment on that now," Mayor Cory Booker said.

"It was deemed an accidental death," the Police Director said.

Vanessa Gentleman is a close friend of the Ealey family.

Three years ago, her son Xavier also died while in foster care.

In that case, the 2 year old was beaten to death, police say, while the agency, then called DYFS, was looking into allegations of abuse.

"She deserves to have answers for her baby. Nobody would give me answers for my son," Gentleman said.

"We're looking for justice for little Kaniiyah. What happened? Why did it happen? Why was she in the care of someone who was unfit," said Cheryl McIver, the victim's mother's friend.