CPS worker says she resigned in light of Brook Stagles' death
We are now hearing from a former Monroe County Child Protective Services worker who said she resigned in part because of the death of Brook Stagles.
In an exclusive interview, Jessica Lucus said she wants to expose what is really going on in the department she says is crumbling to the ground.
Lucas was not directly assigned to Brooks Stagles' case, but said two months before the toddler died, she went to her boss saying she feared a child would die if changes weren't made in the department.
With tears in her eyes, Jessica Lucas said she resigned from CPS in August, a job she used to love.
"I had to leave because I have to make a difference," Lucas said. "I can't sit back and let another Brook happen and let people cover up what's really going on."
Jessica Lucus said last year she and colleagues spoke up to supervisors hoping for change.
"When we had concerns about a child or felt they needed to be removed, we weren't always supported," Lucus said. "What happened was we were all retaliated against."
She said experienced, wonderful caseworkers with five to 10 years of experience were leaving because of the work environment.
Then, Brook Stagles died last November during an open CPS investigation.
"I had said two months prior to this happening to Brook I was scared a child is going to die and two months later this happens to Brook," Lucus said tearfully.
During a press conference Wednesday, the County Executive announced a new eight-point plan to improve child protective services. This includes funding for 30 new CPS workers and an upgrade to all child protective caseworker salaries.
Few details were discussed about what those salaries will be and how this will be paid for.
Lucas said she was furious when she heard the county's statements.
"These are things in 2016 we brought up before anything ever happened to Brook," she added. "A child shouldn't have to die to bring these in action."
Lucas says the safety of children in the county is being sacrificed by overwhelming caseloads and a hostile environment, despite the county's claim CPS is in good standing.
The grandfather of Brook Stagles said he did not find many statements made by the county related to the death of his granddaughter to be truthful.
He said he just wants workers to have the support they need to do their tremendously difficult job.
Monroe County issued a statement in response to the CPS changes.
“The union representing over 200 current CPS Caseworkers has praised the County Executive’s Eight Point Plan, calling it a “positive response.” The plan was developed using feedback from a recent listening tour held at the request of the County Executive, which gave voice to those who currently work at CPS. We look forward to implementing all eight points of the CPS plan as soon as possible.”