“Heroin Mom” Case In Question

She's known to police as "Heroin Mom" and was arrested in West Hartford in December, accused of bringing her young child along on a drug deal. Now, there are new questions being raised about why the Department of Children and Families closed its case on her months before the arrest.

Maribel Marrero, 39, of Hartford was arrested in the parking lot of a Shell gas station in West Hartford on December 3. Police found 97 bags of heroin in Marrero's car. Her 7-year-old daughter was sitting next to the drugs, police said. It was apparently not the first time her mother brought her on a drug deal.

Marrero is a convicted felon with numerous drug arrests, police said. Her involvement with drugs was one reason she lost custody of her first six children. Until recently, she was under ongoing supervision by the Department of Children and Families.

Now, Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein is investigating why DCF closed its case with Marrero in July. In doing so, the agency stopped all visits with the family and services including drug treatment.

"A mother with a history such as this, with a child in her care and custody, should have received services for years and years and years yet they closed the case," said Milstein. "It is incomprehensible to me why they closed the case when this child was at such risk."

Gary Kleeblatt, a DCF spokesman, declined to talk specifically about the case. In a statement, he said "Even parents who have had a removal of children at an earlier point in time have a right to rehabilitate themselves and demonstrate that they have recovered. Absent continuing evidence demonstrating an ongoing risk, social workers and judges are unable to look into the future and determine that a child will be placed in some danger."

The case highlights a larger problem at the agency, said Milstein. "It's time for reform at the Department of Children and Families."

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