The Death of Joy King-Castro, Part 1
Stories from the Inside
“This all has to be for something.” ~Sheneika Brothers, Youth Affairs Specialist, NCFIE
Joy King-Castro was a beautiful, highly intelligent 4-year-old child in foster care in Brevard County, Florida. Brevard Family Partnership, the private entity that handled every aspect of her case, is the last mandated Child Welfare organization I worked for. Her death was the last death I will ever experience as an employee of these systems. Now I am an advocate for the people chewed up and spat out by these systems. I speak for those who’ve lost so much because of the problematic people running these organizations. Their behaviors deserve the glaring eye of analysis, just as the families they serve experience.
Joy died 2 months after I arrived here in this dusty little seaside county, home to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. One of her Case Managers quit immediately afterwards. She sent an agency-wide email telling the team what was up with this case, and how betrayed she felt by leadership. Read it here. It is a deafening indictment of the leadership at Brevard Family Partnership and worth the read. Kirsten Larson cared a lot, but even in this email I can see the twisted reflection of leadership’s practice on her. She says things no case manager under functioning leadership would ever say in a mandated Child Welfare system. More on that later. First, Joy.
Joy was brutally attacked by her foster mother, Lakeisha Mitchell, on August 23, 2021. She was beaten and bruised in multiple places, including her head, a dangerous sign that a child is being maltreated and at high risk. She became unresponsive during her ordeal and her licensed, paid foster mother decided to put her in a bathtub half full of water. She thought she was faking unconsciousness, and this would force her to return to her conscious state. She walked out of the room for several minutes and when she returned, Joy’s head was partially submerged in water. 911 was called and she was taken to the hospital, but the damage had been done. Her brain was dead, and she died on August 25, 2021. The Florida Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline was called. This was the third child abuse report involving Lakeisha Mitchell in seven months.
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