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Murder Of Two Germantown Children Shines Light On Legal Safeguards

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The recent murders of two children in Germantown, allegedly by their mother and a family friend, is focusing attention on areas of social services designed to safeguard children at risk.

If someone had called Child Protective Services in the weeks before the police were called to the home shared by Zakieya Latrice Avery and Monifa Denise Sanford last Friday morning, a tragedy might have been avoided. But they weren't, and now two children — aged one and two — are dead as part of what police say was an exorcism.

But when counselors decide that children are at risk and need to be removed from a home, it presents a broader dilemma of where to place them. One of the options is foster care, but according to Agnes Leshner, director of Child Protective Services in Montgomery County, there is a crisis in the state's foster care system.

"We are in desperate need of people who can provide temporary shelter for children who need to be removed from their parents because they're not safe in their own situation," she says.

Leshner says in the past month there's been a spike in the number of children who need foster care and not enough families qualified to accept them.

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