UPDATE II: In a settlement reached on Tuesday, Tracy Dossman admitted no "guilt or culpability" in the death of 4 1/2 year old Amariana Crenshaw, but has agreed to stop working with foster children, in child care, or in residential care homes with the elderly. Dossman was previously licensed with the Community Care Licensing Division, and is also a certified Nurse’s Assistant.
UPDATE: CDSS released new details about the abuse and neglect conditions that existed in the North Natomas home where 4 1/2-year-old Amariana Crenshaw died in the foster care of Tracy Dossman (at left) in January 2008. Investigators reveal that 17 injuries to the toddler occurred between January 2006 and July 2007, including bruising and cuts to her head, face, and lips, a fall down the stairs, and a leg injury as the result of being pushed out of the car.
Dossman’s home, which has provided foster care to a total of 46 children, has a gruesome history of violent outbursts, strange rules, and unhealthy living conditions; Children whipping one another with a belt, one child hitting another so hard that the girl passed out, routine wearing of threadbare, dirty, and ill-fitting clothing, the refrigerator and pantry being locked, and children repeatedly locked in their rooms were commonplace occurrences .
Currently Dossman’s license to provide foster care is suspended, but she is challenging the effort to permanently revoke it. The case remains under investigation, and will go before an administrative law judge in June. Despite their biological father’s constant complaints against Dossman both before and after the child’s death, she has since legally adopted Amariana’s older sister, now 10.
On Saturday, California will begin imposing new limits on the maximum number of children allowed in foster homes. Only six children at a time will be allowed, regardless if they are biological, adopted, under legal guardianship, or in the foster system. The new limits will initially apply to only the 3,400 state or county licensed foster families, but will eventually extend to providers who are certified by private foster family agencies, of which there are around 13,000.
The decision comes after the death of 4 ½ year old Amariana Crenshaw (at right,) a Sacramento child who lived in a foster home with 8 other children whose ages ranged from 4 to 19. Amariana’s death, which remains unsolved, occurred on January 11, 2008 after a fire bomb was thrown into
the house where she was staying, engulfing her in flames.
Following a two-year investigation, Crenshaw's foster mother, Tracy Dossman, who had cared for 46 children since 2003, lost her certification as a foster provider in February 2010. Dossman had been certified by Positive Option Family Services, a privately licensed foster care agency based in Sacramento.
Jill Duerr Berrick, a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare, agrees that the limits are “a really good step...Children in foster care have been traumatized…they need a very high degree of sensitive, thoughtful care… You can’t do it if you’ve got six or nine kids in your household.”
Until now, providers have been allowed up to six foster children with no limits on other children in the home. Officials with the state Department of Social Services hope the new limit will not only improve the quality of care for the 80,000 foster children in California, but also weed out potential caretakers who take on more foster children for financial gain. The current revisions, and other changes in statewide foster care regulations, would bring California closer to limits posed by other states.