Father sues foster care alternative after death of his daughter

EMBED </>More Videos

A Chicago area father is suing a program that he said ignored his rights as a parent, resulting in the death of his infant daughter. (WLS)

A Chicago area father is suing a program that he said ignored his rights as a parent, resulting in the death of his infant daughter.

Justin Freeman said a program that is an alternative to foster care refused to release his daughter to his custody, but released the child to her mother, who is now accused in the baby's death.

Cherish Freeman was just 9 months old when she died, allegedly as a result of her mother's actions inside a Joliet motel room on December 20, 2017. The baby had just been released into Shanquilla Garvey's custody against the father's wishes.

"I love my daughter and I miss her dearly. This shouldn't have happened to her," he said.

Temporarily unable to care for her themselves, Freeman said he and Cherish's mother voluntarily checked their daughter into the Safe Families for Children program in September.

Offered as an alternative to foster care, the organization is an independent non-profit based out of Chicago's Northwest Side.

Speaking to ABC7 in court as he filed a lawsuit against them on Wednesday, Freeman accused the organization of negligence by refusing to release Cherish to him without the mother's consent once he got a job, but then turning around and giving the baby to the mother without his.

"He knew it was a bad environment that she was in and who she was hanging around with, and there were previous allegations against her with the father of her other children. He expressed that concern and that concern went ignored," attorney Kevin O'Connor said.

"If custody had been placed with him instead of the mother, the child would be alive now," attorney Jeffery Leving said.

In a statement Wednesday, Safe Families for Children would not comment on the lawsuit saying only "we were deeply saddened to hear about the recent death of Cherish...parents voluntarily seek our help and retain full custody of their children. At any point in a hosting, parents can request that their children return home."

The baby's mother was charged with aggravated battery. She was denied bail and is in custody at the Will County Jail.

Related Topics:
child deathChicagoOld Irving Park
(Copyright ©2018 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.)