Children slip through the cracks.
That’s not something that John Greco – the Deputy Director of San Joaquin County’s Child Services Bureau – likes to confront, but he knows that his department is neither a safety net nor a law enforcement agency and that no matter how hard those in the public’s employ work at their given job, they aren’t going to save everybody.
Hunter Davis was one of those kids that fell through the cracks.
The 11-year-old died earlier this week after battling for his life at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento where he was airlifted on Sept. 7 with a gunshot wound to the head. He was shot at close range during an unsupervised party on the 1200 block of Glenn Drive in Manteca.
And while his scenario, according to Greco, would on the surface have made him a prime candidate for child protective services to investigate and get involved with, circumstances made the decision more difficult.
For one thing, Davis’ parents had moved to Modesto and he and his brothers bounced back and forth between the two communities and multiple houses during that time. Even if an investigation were to be launched, finding those that are designated as the victim in the case is paramount and next to impossible without any sort of stability on the home front.
Other factors include the age of those that the department receives a notice about – older kids that aren’t in immediate physical danger or subjected to any kind of abuse are more able to take care of themselves – and an unofficial triage system allows the department to cater to individuals in high-risk situations with limited manpower.
“The goal of what we’re trying to do is improve the life of the child, and sometimes that’s through what we’re able to do, and other times it’s through partnering with community groups that are able to provide food and clothing and even shelter,” Greco said. “We have very specific parameters. Legal parameters. And we’re limited by those constraints in what we can do.
“You never want to read about an 11-year-old in a situation like that dying tragically. That goes against the safety that we really try and advocate for.”
Two adults believed to have furnished alcohol to minors at the party – and reportedly knew that the young men in the house had a gun – were arrested earlier this week on felony charges. Investigators contend that they also stuck around and drank with the kids as well.
Whether or not Davis’ death equates negligence on the part of his caretakers will be the next determination made by CPS. That decision, if affirmed, will be forwarded on to the State of California, and a decision on how to proceed will be made there.”