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Cabinet for Health and Family Services responds to death of 7-year-old in foster care

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Posted at 7:56 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 20:11:03-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The mother of a seven-year-old who died while in foster care told LEX 18 that she feels like she has been left in the dark in her pursuit to learn more about her son's death.

In an exclusive interview at her father's home in Lexington Tuesday, Dominique Terry spoke about her son, Ja'Ceon Terry, who died earlier this month.

LEX 18 reached out to both the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Governor's office, and the Cabinet responded Wednesday.

“The cabinet is deeply saddened by the death of Ja’Ceon Terry; the death of any child in care is devastating. The cabinet arranged for a viewing earlier today for family members, followed by a state-provided burial this afternoon. The cabinet contracts with licensed foster care facilities to provide residential care for children. Uspiritus, whose facilities include Brooklawn in Louisville, where Ja’Ceon passed, has an agreement with the state to provide care and treatment to children in the care of the cabinet. Placements at Uspiritus in all programs have been suspended (Private Child Caring, Private Child Placing and Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility) due to an ongoing investigation by the cabinet’s Office of the Inspector General and Department for Community Based Services. A full review of Brooklawn, including staffing, regulations and protocol, is continuing.
Thanks,
Susan Dunlap"

When hearing the news about the suspension, Dominique Terry, Ja'Ceon's mother, says, "I’m just excited that no other child will go through the trauma that my son had went through.”

**ORIGINAL STORY**

The mother of a seven-year-old who died while in foster care told LEX 18 that she feels like she has been left in the dark in her pursuit to learn more about her son's death.

In an exclusive interview at her father's home in Lexington Tuesday, Dominique Terry spoke about her son, Ja'Ceon Terry, who died earlier this month.

"The middle child is always the wild one," Terry said, remembering her son. "Ja'Ceon was always the wild child."

George Terry, Ja'Ceon's grandfather, said his grandson was a "mama's boy."

"He was cheerful," George Terry said. "He liked to smile, he liked to play, and he liked to fight. But that was Ja'Ceon. He was a boy."

The Terrys told us Ja'Ceon entered the foster care system a few years ago after Dominique ran into legal trouble.

Ja'Ceon died July 17, after he was rushed to a hospital from a Brooklawn Child and Family Services facility, according to WDRB [wdrb.com].

The cause of death has not been released, but the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said they have opened investigations.

Seven Counties Services, which operates the children's home, said they are "devastated at the tragic loss of one of our children."

While Dominique and George Terry are pushing to find out more about the circumstances behind Ja'Ceon's death, they're also struggling to get answers about his burial.

"It's not even gonna be a funeral," said Dominique Terry. "Just buried and that's it."

The Terrys said they just learned Monday that Ja'Ceon's body was brought to a funeral home in Lexington last Friday.

Dominique and George said during their brief conversations with employees of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, they were not given any details about a viewing or burial.

"It's hurtful," Dominique said. "Like what if this table was turned and it was on your family?"

On the same day that Dominique retained a lawyer and LEX 18 began asking questions of government officials and of funeral home employees, the Terrys said they were told they could view Ja'Ceon's body Wednesday.

An employee with the funeral home confirmed that at the cabinet's direction, the family will be present for the viewing, but added that she was not aware of any plans for the burial.

Dominique has already given thought to how she would want her son buried.

"The funeral would be laid out with his favorite color blue," Dominique said. "With the doves and all of that. That's what I wanted."

LEX 18 reached out to the cabinet official who the Terrys said was handling the case, but we have not heard back. A spokesperson for Governor Andy Beshear confirmed to LEX 18 that she had received our request for comment and was working on getting a response from the cabinet.