We, Kathleen Raskin and Robert Raskin, are sad to report that yet another child has died due to corruption within the organizations that are meant to protect them. On Oct.25, 2015, a woman named Samantha Nacole Bryant lost custody of her toddler son, Rylan Ott, after she and her boyfriend were in a drunken fist-fight in her Carthage-area home. This fight involved both alcohol and guns, so the system stepped in to protect the boy, but unfortunately for Rylan, they did not do nearly enough to ensure his continuing safety. Both Rylan and his sister were placed in temporary custody, only to eventually be returned to a mother who remained unfit to parent.
In Moore County in April of 2016, a child who drowned after he was returned to his mother’s custody. Rylan, who was just 23 months old when he died, was able to slip out from his house and wander a half-mile to this pond. He was reunited with his mother without any prior observation by child protection agencies, so there was no attempt to make sure she was fit to parent or that her parenting skills had improved since he was initially removed from her care. He had only been in her care for four months when tragedy struck.
The DSS Response
A caseworker claimed in her report that Rylan’s mother visited the child while he was in care three times a week, but his guardians say this is not true. Rylan’s Guardian Ad Litem, Pam Reed, and the boy’s kinship parents, Shane and Amanda Mills, had attempted to argue in court that Samantha Bryant was still an unfit mother, and they were proven correct too late. His mother is now being charged with child abuse and involuntary manslaughter, but the caseworker who was involved has not been penalized or charged with any wrongdoing. His case has undergone a second investigation, but the results of this are not public. The Moore County DSS director resigned as a result of this case.
As a response to Rylan’s senseless death, Rylan’s Law was enacted. This bill requires social workers to document and observe two successful visits between children who are in state care and the parents they were removed from before they can be reunited. Until this law was passed, this was considered to be a “best practice,” for obvious reasons, but why it was not a requirement is less clear. This law is intended to close this loophole in an effort to strengthen this broken system, and it will help other children to be spared from Rylan’s fate in the future. We are Kathleen Raskin and Robert Raskin, and we won’t stop fighting to protect families and children until this corruption has been stopped.