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Yuba County CPS Knew Newborn Tested Positive For Drugs, Mom Admitted To Heroin Use

LINDA (CBS13) — Yuba County Child Protective Services workers noted the mother of a newborn found dead likely had a drug problem and that the mother admitted to using heroin three days before the baby was born, according to court documents.

Her name was Destany. She lived for only 11 days and died inside a room filled with drugs and needles at Linda's Rio Inn and Suites.

Yuba County CPS knew something according to court documents. They knew the baby's mother, Jennifer Sierra, likely had a drug problem after the hospital notified the agency that baby Destany "tested positive for morphine and codeine at the time of birth."

The affidavit also says, "Sierra admitted that she had injected heroin approximately three days prior to the infant's birth."

Despite knowing this, CPS let Sierra take the baby girl home from the hospital. Less than two weeks later, she would be found dead in that Linda motel room.

We asked Russ Brown with Yuba County CPS if it was common to let a child that tested positive for drugs to go home with their mother.

"I don't know to what extent," he said. "There are some severe problems in this area, and I know we deal with those on a regular basis. The case workers here have huge caseloads, they deal with things like this on a fairly regular basis, and they really every time try to make the decision they can."

But Brown couldn't tell us why a mother was able to take home a baby that tested positive for drugs.

Surprisingly, health professionals we spoke to off-camera say it's not as uncommon as you'd think.

Still, child advocates like Leslie Heimov with the Children's Law Center of California say something went wrong.

"There clearly wasn't enough oversight. You know the decision to release, in hindsight, was obviously a mistake, and the lack of services in those 11 days left us in this situation with this tragedy."

A tragedy Yuba County CPS says they don't want to happen again.

"We really are upset," Brown said. "We're trying to find out what happened. We're trying to find out not only what happened, but how we can change it so it doesn't happen again."

Sierra remains at the Yuba County Jail. She hasn't been charged in the death of baby Destany while autopsy results are still pending.

She is charged with endangering her children based on the drugs found in her motel room.

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