The little girl was only a toddler, 2 going on 3, but she weighed 70 pounds and lived in filth, Pierce County Sheriff’s Det. Sgt. Teresa Berg learned before she went to remove the child from her home.
Berg is on the team of law enforcement officers who are called on to help remove abused or neglected children from their homes and take them to temporary foster homes. She’s one of the founders of Charlie’s Dinosaur.
“I remember saying, ‘No way,’” Berg said of the report.
“That was one big toddler. She was ginormous. The kids were in filth. Absolute filth. The only food, I kid you not, was Cheetos and soda. It was awful. This poor little one, she was almost three. She had a brother who was eight.
“We had to take the kids into protective custody. They weren’t being cared for. Mom couldn’t even get up off the sofa.
“You forgot, looking at (the toddler), that she was almost 3. She didn’t have many words yet, not a lot of exposure to people speaking to her. Of course, she wasn’t potty trained, and she hadn’t bathed in a while.
“I would pretty much clean kids up at the precinct. They are much better accepted at the homes. I took her into the bathroom to clean her up, and I had to cut her underwear off. They were cutting into her skin. Oh, my gosh. I got scissors and cut them off, and she was ‘ouchie! ouchie!’ They were so tight on her tummy. We took all of them off, cleaned her up and made her comfy. It was like a different kid. We had pull-ups for her.
“That’s an example of the importance of having clothes for these children. A lot of the time, kids have wretched clothes on. If it’s too big, it’s one thing, but if it’s too small, it’s worse.
“She wasn’t beaten. This was a case of atrocious neglect because mom has mental health issues.
“This is one of the positive stories. It was a wake-up call for mom. Her family did rally. Sometimes it takes something like your kids having to go away before you realize you need to change. The parent went into services, and she did very well with services and treatment. She had the opportunity to make amends. She did love her kids, and she did want them back.
“The kids were bonded, and we wanted to make it nice for them. The older boy came back home sooner than the younger girl. The kids did well.”
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