CHICAGO (CBS) – When an 11 year old girl died, her grieving foster mom took on a fight that will forever change how DCFS responds when a young ward of the state passes away.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker has this original report.
It has been five months since Karen Castleberry lost her foster child, Antonia Tayler, after an asthma attack.
“Another family shouldn’t have to go through this pain that I had to go through,” said Castleberry.
Antonia lived with Castleberry’s family the last six years of her life, but when she died, Castleberry couldn’t afford to bury her. That’s when she learned DCFS wouldn’t cover the cost.
Last December, she shared her disappointment with CBS 2, saying, “They’re responsible in life. Why wouldn’t I think they’re responsible in death?”
Castleberry turned her anger into action, reaching out to the head of a private child welfare agency, Zack Schrantz.
“When I saw Karen’s story and she shared with me the pain she was going through, it just hit home that we have to change this,” said Schrantz.
Schrantz sent a copy of the CBS 2 story to the head of DCFS.
“I said ‘You may not be aware of this,’” wrote Schrantz.
DCFS responded immediately. Their email response stated, “You are right. This is a surprise and a disappointing one at that. I will change our policy the start of the year.”
The change didn’t happen at the start of the year, but shortly after what would have been Antonia’s 12th birthday.
When the Castleberry family released balloons, DCFS released its new policy, providing guardians up to $5,000 to bury a foster child.
“That leaves me fealling really good to be a part of this change. I lost my daughter, but her death wasn’t in vain,” stated Castleberry.
The new policy by DCFS goes into effect immediately. A spokesman for the agency says it now means they no longer have to scramble to find the money to bury a foster child.