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Severe head injury of 2-year-old foster child spurs caregiver re-education campaign

The Clark County Department of Family Services on Wednesday began a campaign to re-educate foster parents on properly choosing baby sitters, three weeks after a 2-year-old boy suffered severe head injuries while with a caregiver who was a friend of the foster mother.

Osbaldo “Nanno” Sanchez, 21, was arrested on Nov. 14. Police allege that on Nov. 10, while baby-sitting at an apartment at 7101 Smoke Ranch Road, near Tenaya Way, Sanchez shook Alexander Laws so hard the boy’s brain swelled.

After the incident, Laws suffered a stroke and a series of seizures. Part of his skull had to be removed at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center to make room for the brain swelling, according to a Las Vegas police report.

While Sanchez, of Las Vegas, awaits a preliminary court hearing on one count of child abuse and one count of neglect – both with substantial bodily harm – the grim details of the case have the county’s Department of Family Services promising to educate future foster parents on its policies regarding baby sitters.

In a statement, the Family Services Department said it did not know that Sanchez was a caregiver for the boy and emphasized that the Las Vegas foster mother, Kasondra Martinsen, 35, never got approval from the department to have Sanchez baby-sit, a requirement.

Since Sanchez’s arrest, Martinsen’s foster parent license has been suspended, the Family Services Department said.

A statement emailed to the Review-Journal on Wednesday said: “We cannot condone that behavior. … We believe that the policies and processes we have in place, when followed, protect our children. We know this incident does not characterize the hundreds of caring foster parents in Clark County who have stepped forward to fill a vital role in our community.”

According to a report by the Metropolitan Police Department, the foster mother initially tried to cover for Sanchez by saying that she was giving the boy a bath and that he slipped and hit his head when she left the bathroom.

Later, Martinsen admitted that Sanchez was taking care of the boy while she worked a 12-hour shift.

The foster mother also had custody of a 6-year-old boy whom Sanchez was also watching, although the 6-year-old was not injured.

According to an ophthalmologist and a general physician at Sunrise Hospital, the boy had injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, the police report said.

Sanchez told police the 2-year-old slipped and fell on water in the bathroom.

He said the water came from a shower that the 6-year-old boy took while Sanchez was cooking dinner.

Sanchez said he ran to the bathroom, picked up the boy and “shook him” to try and calm him down, according to the police report.

When police asked how he shook him, Sanchez gave a cradling/rocking motion with his arms, the report said.

The boy later ate dinner, played, drank some milk, then went to bed.

The 6-year-old boy, however, told police that his 2-year-old foster brother was in the living room when he got hurt, the report said.

The older boy told investigators that he was in bed at the time and that he heard the noise from the bedroom.

Later, when Martinsen arrived, Sanchez told her about everything; and when she woke the boy up, she noticed he couldn’t open one eye. That is when she took him to MountainView Hospital, and he later was transported to Sunrise Hospital.

When police asked Sanchez why he never called 911, he said there was no phone in the apartment, although police noted that he had a working cellphone, according to the report.

Police also noted that Sanchez could have knocked on the doors of neighbors in the apartment complex.

Both the 2-year-old and the 6-year-old were placed with the foster mother by the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services, which oversees and regulates the foster parent program, according to Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa.

According to the statement from the Clark County Department of Family Services, it “conducts a criminal history and background check on all prospective foster parents. We also provide comprehensive training to all foster parents prior to licensure. Our policies and procedures address baby-sitting and who may or may not provide care for our children.”

“We require that anyone who provides extended baby-sitting for foster children be approved by the department subsequent to a criminal history and background check review.”

Contact reporter Tom Ragan at tragan@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.

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