Drowned Ceres boy, siblings' care doubted

Florcita Valdez's father uncertain of her ability to protect children

August 3, 2010 

The grandfather of the 2-year-old Ceres boy who drowned two weeks ago in an algae-filled pool says the toddler's mother was not capable of taking care of her kids.

Aureliano Ramos is Florcita Valdez's father.

The death of Valdez's son, Aureliano, has sparked a criminal investigation by the Ceres Police Department and led to the removal of two of Valdez's three other children from her home.

Valdez's 14-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son had lived in the Larsen Lane home with her and her boyfriend. Her 16-year-old lived with his grandparents before the drowning.

After Aureliano Valdez's funeral July 27, the 14-year-old and 8-year-old were moved into foster care by Stanislaus County Child Protective Services, according to Florcita Valdez.

"I don't know where they're at," Valdez said Tuesday. "I have not been told how long they will be in foster care."

She said she's spoken to her children once on the phone since the funeral and will be allowed to see them for the first time today for about an hour.

She said she understands why they were taken away, but not why they couldn't be put into the custody of family members, some of whom she says are foster parents.

Valdez admitted that Ceres police officers and CPS workers have paid numerous visits to the home over the past few years.

Ramos criticized the agency, telling Fox 40 television news Monday that CPS didn't do enough to protect the children and questioned Valdez's ability to care for them.

After Aureliano's death, Valdez's two children lived with her sister in the Bay Area until the week of the funeral.

"They didn't even let me say goodbye," she said.

As standard policy, CPS has neither confirmed nor denied a case exists on the Valdez family.

Ceres police met with members of the Stanislaus County district attorney's office Tuesday to discuss the criminal investigation into possible negligence.

"Right now, we're just making sure our ducks are in a row before we submit (the case)," Detective Sgt. James Robbins said. "We still have other records to obtain."

Robbins said he couldn't say exactly when his department's investigation will conclude and be sent to the DA's office.

On July 18, Aureliano drowned after apparently accessing the backyard pool through an unlocked gate. He was discovered by rescue workers minutes after his mother reported him missing.

Valdez said she was baking a cake in the kitchen when she realized he was missing.

Bee online content editor Brian Clark can be reached at bclark@modbee.com or 578-2362.

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