Bureau alerted twice to possible unsafe sleeping, report says
Left: Ceianna Buchanan was 6 days old when she died March 8. Her mother, a Milwaukee child-care worker, was charged Tuesday in her death. Center: Brianna Buchanan-Prescott died while sleeping with her mother last year. Right: Cierra Buchanan died while co-sleeping with her grandmother in 1993.
By Crocker Stephenson of the Journal Sentinel
The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare was twice alerted to accusations of unsafe sleeping practices at the home of Rose Prescott before her 6-day-old daughter, Ceianna Buchanan, suffocated on Prescott’s living room couch, according to a report released Thursday.
Prescott, 30, was charged this month with second-degree reckless homicide. Police say Prescott was so drunk in the early hours of March 8 that she had no memory of coming home or of putting Ceianna to bed.
Ceianna’s lifeless body was found on Prescott’s living room couch later that morning. The medical examiner ruled that Ceianna’s death was the result of “asphyxiation due to overlay while co-sleeping with an adult.”
According to a report from the Department of Children and Families, which runs the Milwaukee County child welfare bureau, Prescott sought medical attention for her 1-month-old infant who had rolled out of bed on July 26, 1999.
“The mother and infant had been co-sleeping in an adult sized bed,” the report says. “The infant did not have any medical injuries. There was no BMCW intervention.”
Less than a year before Ceianna’s death – on April 17, 2008 – the bureau was notified of the death of Prescott’s 2-month-old daughter, Brianna Buchanan-Prescott. Brianna is Ceianna’s sister.
“The autopsy report lists sudden unexpected death in infancy due to co-sleeping,” the DCF report says. “The medical examiner did not note any trauma or maltreatment to the infant.”
A bureau investigator ruled Brianna’s death “to be unsubstantiated for neglect.”
Prescott told a police detective investigating Brianna’s death that she had one drink of brandy mixed with cola before joining Brianna and another child on a couple of twin mattresses pushed together on the floor of her bedroom, according to investigative reports.
After Ceianna’s death 11 months later, Prescott told an investigator “that she has a drinking problem and she needs help,” according to a criminal complaint.
The second-leading cause of infant death in Milwaukee is SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, which often is related to unsafe sleep, according to the Milwaukee Health Department. The department, on its Web site, “strongly advises parents NOT to share a bed with their infant.”
The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, on its Web site, http://www.bhcw.org, calls co-sleeping “a reality for many” and offers advice on making co-sleeping safer.
Arlene Happach, director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, said: “The death of baby Ceianna is a tragedy and has caused our community to ask questions about safe sleep.
“The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare has advised parents about safe sleep practices and provided Pack ‘n Play portable cribs if a family needed a safe place for an infant to sleep.
“We continue to work with our partners such as Milwaukee Department of Health and the Black Health Coalition to inform and educate our community about safe-sleep practices.”
THIS IS NOT THE SECOND CHILD OF THIS MOTHER BUT THE THIRD CHILD OF HERS TO DIE FROM “CO-SLEEPING”!
Death of 6-day-old baby was third co-sleeping fatality in her family
By Crocker Stephenson of the Journal Sentinel
A Milwaukee child-care worker who police say was too drunk to remember putting her infant daughter to sleep on a couch was charged Tuesday with killing the 6-day-old baby.
Rose Prescott, 30, told police it was possible she fell asleep on the couch with her daughter, Ceianna Buchanan, according to a criminal complaint charging Prescott with second-degree reckless homicide.
Ceianna’s alleged homicide on March 8 was the third co-sleeping death in her immediate family.
Prescott’s 2-month-old daughter, Brianna Buchanan-Prescott, died while sleeping with Prescott on April 17, 2008.
Ceianna and Brianna’s 5-month-old half-sister, Cierra Buchanan, died while co-sleeping with Cierra’s grandmother in 1993.
Shortly after Ceianna’s death, the Journal Sentinel reported that the state-run Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare was aware of Brianna’s death under similar circumstances less than a year before.
When the newspaper asked what services the bureau provided to Ceianna’s family, child welfare officials said state confidentiality laws prevented them from commenting because no one had been charged with a crime.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Children and Families said Tuesday that, now that abuse had been confirmed, the agency was preparing a public report.
According to the complaint filed in Ceianna’s death, Prescott told police that on March 7 she drank a half-liter of Bacardi Rum Hurricane between 3:15 and 10 p.m. She told police she took Ceianna to a baby sitter, then went to a family cookout, where she continued to drink.
Prescott told police she remembers picking Ceianna up from the baby sitter.
“Ms. Prescott could not recall what transpired beyond that point in time,” the complaint says.
“Specifically, Ms. Prescott could not remember arriving home, parking the car, or coming up the stairs of her residence,” the complaint says.
Prescott gave investigators conflicting reports of what happened next.
She told an investigator she put Ceianna face up on one side of the couch, put a toddler on the other end of the couch and then slept on the floor.
Investigators noted there were no pillows or blankets on the floor.
Prescott told another investigator that she was drunk, and that it was possible she fell asleep on the couch with Ceianna.
The complaint says Prescott found Ceianna facing the back cushion of the couch and not breathing. Prescott’s car keys were found beneath the child’s body.
According to the autopsy report, Ceianna died of “asphyxia due to suffocation due to overlaying by adult during co-sleeping on couch.”
Her sister, Brianna, died of “sudden unexpected death in infancy with co-sleeping listed as a significant condition,” the complaint says. Prescott also had been drinking the night Brianna died, the complaint says.
“At this time, the Department of Children and Families has no information that this tragic death was the result of child abuse or neglect,” the DCF had said in statement issued shortly after Ceianna’s death. “Therefore, by law, we cannot address any previous history that family may or may not have had with any child protective service agency.”
Their half-sibling, Cierra, died while sleeping in a bed with their grandmother and a 7-year-old relative.
The Journal Sentinel also reported in March that Prescott appears to have provided Milwaukee County with bogus employment information to qualify six of her children for taxpayer-financed child care at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1,300 a week.
After the death of Ceianna in March, Prescott was employed at various day care centers. She was laid off in September from Ne-Ne’s Child Care Center on N. Palmer St., according to documents obtained Tuesday by the Journal Sentinel.
The director of the center, Arnitra Swain, said in a letter to county regulators that state regulators insisted Prescott be laid off pending a criminal background check.
Prescott was scheduled to make her initial court appearance Wednesday.
Raquel Rutledge of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report