The former foster mother to a 10 month old girl who police say was severely beaten says it all could have been avoided.
Rhonda Steward says she fell in love with the child after she was assigned to care for the girl named Princess when the girl was just three weeks old.
“She had a lot of joy in her face when you look at her, she’s always smiling and always laughing,” Steward, 27, said Thursday.
The baby is now in a coma at Oakland Children’s Hospital and is not expected to survive.
Steward says a social worker found her a adoptive family in Stockton and she was assigned to help with the transition. Rhonda recognized the Teldeschi house on TV after the his arrest.
“I said, ‘That’s the guy. That’s where the baby was.’ It just can’t be real, I mean it just can’t be real,” said Steward.
Rhonda loves kids and has fostered 10 children over the last four years and is still guardian to a 10-year-old boy who is wheelchair-bound.
Rhonda met the couple who had applied to adopt princess and got assurances from Teldeschi’s wife. The couple have two kids of their own.
“She said, ‘My husband just got laid off,’ and ‘My husband (has) plenty of time to take care of the kids,’ and things like that,” Steward told FOX40.
She was wary of the husband.
“He really didn’t speak. He just looked kind of stand offish, pretty weird,” Steward said.
Steward says a new social worker acted too quickly to place Princess, taking only three weeks to check the family out.
“It was too fast. I feel she wasn’t worried about their safety because if she was, she would have taken more time to find out things about this guy,” Steward said.
Steward says she was taking steps to adopt Princess herself, even though she knew her role was for temporary care. She says Princess was already in a loving home and says the new foster parents didn’t get the scrutiny that she got in caring for her foster children.
She still wants answers from Child Protective Services, which has been tight lipped about the case.
San Joaquin County CPS would not talk about this particular case, but said that background checks are done with all Foster parents and that parenting classes are required before children are put in their care.