(June 2016, Beltrami County) The recent death of a two-year old child in a Minnesota foster home is yet another tragic example of systemic failures, and neglect happening in the foster care system, and the devastating impact on the children it is supposed to protect.
Nathan Daniel Jackson Sr (DOB 10/29/1977) is charged with manslaughter, and murder in the second degree, in the death of a two-year old foster care child named Kira Friedman that he was caring for. Jackson was licensed as a foster care provider despite a lengthy criminal history; he has also admitted to being a drug user. Jackson lived in the home with his fiancee Amanda White, in total the couple was caring for 7 children (2 foster children).
According to the Criminal Complaint Nathan Jackson, Beltrami County On June 5, 2016, officers responded to the home Nathan Jackson shared with his fiancee Amanda White at 11:30 am with reports of an unresponsive child. The child, Kira Friedman, was found lying on her back in a toddler bed, and was pronounced dead. Affidavits filed by police also noted bruises and cuts on Kira’s body as well as a reddish-pink fluid running from her nose. The affidavits also mentioned blood detected on a wall near the shower and on the front of the washer and dryer.
Amanda White said they typically bathe Kira in a bathtub upstairs. However, on that morning, Nathan Jackson Sr. woke around 7:30 am to give Kira a shower (in another level of the home, downstairs) after she soiled her bed. Jackson left left the room for a period of time, and Kira was unsupervised. An 18 gallon plastic bin, with no holes, used for laundry was also left inside the running shower. When Jackson returned, he found Kira inside of the plastic bin of water. Jackson pulled Kira out of the bin and noted “she didn’t seem right” but didn’t think the situation was that bad. Jackson did not call for an ambulance but instead dressed her and put her back to bed.
At the time of her death, Kira was non-verbal and had recently learned to walk. It is questionable if Kira had the ability to climb into the tub. And second, why would you leave a vulnerable, non-verbal child alone at all, let alone in a shower?
Amanda White put Kira to bed at 9:30 pm the night before and apparently slept through the entire incident. She was woken up by one of her children that told her that Kira was not breathing and went downstairs to check on her, and found the child unresponsive. If the report is accurate, that means Amanda White was sleeping in bed until at least 10-11 am with 7 children running around the house – which is an indicator of neglect, these children need to be fed, clothed and properly supervised and cared for. It is also revealing that a child noticed that Kira was not well before an adult did.
A preliminary autopsy report indicated that Kira died of freshwater drowning.
How Nathan Jackson Sr. and Amanda White were approved and licensed to provide foster care is not only appalling but demonstrates serious flaws, and neglect, in the administration and procedures of the foster care agency that handled this case, and in the foster system itself, overall:
- Nathan Jackson and Amanda White were caring for 5 children of their own plus two foster child. How the foster care agency determined that this family was fit to care for 7 children, including at least one with special needs, needs to be answered.
- A CPS investigator was told that Jackson was using meth and other drugs; he also told detectives that he has a drug problem. After arrest, Jackson gave a urine sample, which was tested for methamphetamine abuse, results have not been released. This guy is using meth and no one notices anything strange or unusual about his behavior??
- Jackson was licensed as a foster care provider despite a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions for assault 5th degree, DWI, theft, various traffic offenses including two separate convictions of failing to seat belt a child.
- Jackson was discharged from probation on June 12, 2015 in connection to a conviction for “Theft-Take/Use/Transfer Movable Prop-No Consent”. Which means Jackson was likely licensed for foster care while still on probation.
WDAZ-TV reports that a foster care agency on the Leech Lake Reservation is responsible for the placement of Kira, which means the Indian Child Welfare Act will factor into how this foster care agency was regulated, and how this case was handled.
This foster care agency, in my opinion, should be immediately have its license suspended with protective orders issued for each child in its care. The agency should be thoroughly investigated, and audited, not only for the circumstances surrounding this child’s death but to also assess if other children who have been placed in foster homes are safe, and receiving the care they deserve.
At the time of this posting, Jackson remains held in the Beltrami County Jail.