CHICAGO (CBS) — There are serious questions for a state agency that handles foster children.
After a young girl dies and no one seems to be taking responsibility for paying for her funeral.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker takes a closer look at the problem.
It’s only been five days since Karen Castleberry lost her foster child, Antonia Tyler.
“That’s my little princess,” says Castleberry.
The 11-year-old, seen here in a YouTube video, was born prematurely, had several medical conditions and died of an asthma attack.
“It was painful. It was hard,” says Castleberry.
Adding to the pain, the agony of trying to get Antonia buried.
Castleberry has another specials needs child so family funds are tight.
She assumed the state, the Department of Children and Family Services would pay.
“They’re responsible in life. Why would I not think it would not be the same in death,” wonders Castleberry.
But UCP Seguin, the agency that contracted DCFS to oversee Antonia’s care, explained in an email to CBS 2 that the state loses its guardianship once the child dies.
And in an email to Castleberry a Seguin manager wrote “The agency is under no obligation to pay for her (Antonia’s) funeral.”
Castleberry says she was told by Seguin if she couldn’t pay the agency contacts the biological mother.
“I couldn’t understand that. You terminated her rights many years ago,” says Castleberry.
With no one taking ownership, Castleberry set up a GoFundMe page.
“It’s like everybody’s got their hands up. It’s not me, who should it be,” says Castleberry.
She thinks DCFS should set up a fund to pay for foster children caught in situations like Antonia.
“It’s a bad place to be in. I’m supposed to be grieving,” says Castleberry. “I had to put my grieving on hold so I can fight.”
According to the communications director of DCFS, the agency looks for many sources to pay for funerals. But it will take a closer look at its policy to make sure there is no situation where a child is left unclaimed.
The foster care agency says it would support a state fund to pay for funerals.