CLARKSVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) took Lacreesha Hill’s children away on January 29, 2021. They said the reason was exposure to drugs and lack of supervision. 

Da’Cari, then one year old, probably picked up a Percocet pill from the floor in the bathroom. Hill had been taking meds after having her tubes tied; she spilled the container and picked them up but apparently missed one. There were no illicit drugs found in the home and she tested negative for opioids. 

Lacreesha Hill works for Duke Energy from home. She wants justice for daughter DaCayla.

Da’Cari’s Dad, Dominique Green, who does not live with them, was watching the kids while Lacreesha was working from home that day. Dad cleaned up a bit, then gave Da’Cari a shower and put him down for a nap. But his breathing became labored and he became unresponsive. 

Hill called 911; when the ambulance arrived, Da’Cari was barely conscious with pinpoint pupils, a tell tale sign, so the EMT gave him a shot of Narcan. He started to come around.

He was taken to Tennova hospital in Clarksville, and then transferred to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Vanderbilt ran more tests; there was nothing else wrong with him. 

His vitals on 1/30/21: “constitutional: well-developed, well-nourished, and in no distress…Pupils are equal, round, and reactive to light, breath sounds normal, no respiratory distress. He exhibits normal muscle tone, coordination normal, skin is warm and dry, no rash noted.”  

Toxicology: “Patient’s UDS was presumptive positive for opiates. All other testing was negative. He was weaned from narcan at 3 AM and watched closely for change in mental status. SW (social worker) was consulted in setting of ingestion. They felt patient was stable to go home.”  

Two-year old Da’Cari Green.

Vanderbilt doctors concluded, rightly, that Da’Cari’s overdose was accidental. And the social workers thought he should go home. They felt no need to add more traumas for the family and decided to release the little boy. Both parents were home at the time Da’Cari picked up what looked like a piece of candy and ate it; the children were not neglected or abused; Mom was working. Dad didn’t notice. Things like that happen with young children.

Da’Cari recovered quickly and he should have gone home but DCS stepped in and took him, DaCayla, and La’Marah, 10, into custody. That turned out to be a death sentence for 6-month old DaCayla. A series of blunders, ineptitude, and deliberate delays by DCS over the next four months led to her death and never would never have happened if DCS had not wrongfully removed the kids in the first place. 

“If DaCayla was alive she’d be one but she’s gone,” Hill said.

Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk has opened a homicide investigation but DCS will probably never be charged as accessory to murder, although they are certainly guilty. DCS took responsibility for DaCayla’s safety and failed miserably to provide it.

DCS forced itself into Hill’s home to “rescue” two toddlers and a ten-year old who didn’t need their help at all. They suffered months of trauma; the youngest child died. Hill is looking for a good lawyer.

The Case Against DCS

DCS never should have intervened in the first place. The parents did nothing wrong. In fact, faced with a medical emergency, they did everything right. 

The department is quick to remove children and parents have to jump through lots of hoops to regain them. So while taking a child can, and did, take less than a day in this case, it can, and did take months for Hill to navigate the serpentine, opaque, and obstructionist procedures DCS placed in her way to get them back. One never made it home.

DCS caseworker Brooke Brooks took the children into custody at Tennova hospital in Clarksville on January 29, 2021. It’s DCS policy to try and place children with family members. Both maternal and paternal grandmothers live close to Hill. Hill’s Mom lives in Oak Grove, next to Fort Campbell but on the Kentucky side.

L-R, Dominique Green, Da’Cari Green, Grandmother Tanga Lyle on December 18, 2021.

Green’s mom lives in Clarksville. Both were willing to take the children. Hill wanted them to go to her mother. Brooks, or more likely her boss, Heather Jeffries, nixed both those ideas. (See https://tntribune.com/dcs-internal-affairs-covered-up-dozens-of-complaints/)

DCS doesn’t often place children out of state. Tennessee doesn’t get the federal bounty if a Kentucky grandmother ends up adopting. Kentucky gets it. It can be $10,000 but is usually less.

Brooks placed three children with Hill’s sister, Teanna Arnold, 35, who lives in Antioch, more than an hour away to the South but in Tennessee. Arnold owns a nice big house and works fulltime as a nurse at Centennial Hospital in Nashville. She has two sons, young teens.

“I was going up there every day seeing the kids back and forth everyday when I got off work,” Hill said. 

Tanga Lile, Dacayla and Da’Cari’s grandmother, told the Tribune she and Dominque Green often couldn’t visit the kids because Arnold’s work schedule cut into the 10 am-8 pm window DCS had allowed for visitation. 

Arnold asked Brooks for a childcare voucher but she didn’t provide one so Hill sent her sister three money transfers to pay for it totaling $897 between March 16 and May 5. Hill told the Tribune that her sister left the toddlers at home with no adult in the house while she went to work. Arnold told her she had a neighbor, who checked in on them occasionally.

It bears repeating that Hill works from home and Dad was a regular babysitter. They had in place what DCS failed to provide once they took the children. It bears further repeating: DCS never should have taken the children in the first place. Once they did, the kids should have been closer to their Mom. 

Once Brooks placed them at an inconvenient distance, she should have made sure the toddlers had childcare. DCS caseworkers never visited Arnold’s home after they were placed there. 

“They took my children away and placed them with my sister. They gave me a parenting plan saying that it was supposed to get dismissed in April if I completed everything, which I did,” Hill told the Tribune.

That included a drug test, an Alcohol & Drug Education Program, and a mental assessment. Hill jumped through all those hoops while working fulltime and driving more than two hours every day to see her kids after she got off work.

“I did everything,” she repeated. Hill came to court with records showing she had done what DCS told her to do. “We complied with them. The case was supposed to be dismissed April 29th,” Hill said.

When Hill showed up in court to get “re-instated” as a Mom, Brooks wasn’t there. DCS Team Coordinator Karmen Davis was there instead. 

Davis said they were not going through with the reunification because someone had reported the children were being abused and they had to investigate. When DCS thought Hill neglected the children they had them out of the home in a New York minute. Apparently, when they suspect abuse of foster children, they take their sweet time. DCS’s failure to return the children when promised proved to be a deadly delay for DaCayla.

“They really should have dismissed it. They didn’t follow their own protocol,” Hill said. Of all the lame excuses DCS could have made to delay the case, implying Hill had something to do with abusing the children is simply not credible. They hadn’t been living with their Mom since January 29, 2021.

Hill’s 10 year-old daughter, La’Marah Smith.

Davis assigned a new caseworker, Akendra Patterson, who told Hill she couldn’t find Brook’s file on Hill’s case, so the custody hearing would have to be rescheduled anyway. Hill had to go through all the DCS “education” rigmarole again. Patterson assured Hill everything would be dismissed the next court date. It was just a matter of a few more weeks. But DaCayla didn’t have that much time. 

“If they got a call for child abuse and had checked in on the kids, then my child would be alive right now,” Hill said. 

Imagine what this forced exile was like for the children. Their Mom visits almost everyday but it just reinforces their separation anxiety because she’s not there 99% of the time. Imagine DaCayla crying inconsolably when her Mom leaves her. Imagine Aunt Teanna at her wits end trying to comfort her. 

Peggy Gordon is the grandmother of Hill’s second oldest child. Gordon lives in Memphis. She took Malaysia, 6, to visit her cousins who were staying with their Aunt Teanna in Antioch. Gordon was there twice. But neither time was Aunt Teanna at home.

“It was evening time when I got there but Teanna wasn’t there. Gordon called her. “I told her I said ‘why are these kids at home by themselves?’”

Gordon said the two babies looked hungry. “They were not kept up. Their pampers were nasty,” she said. Gordon told Arnold’s boys to change their diapers and feed them. They gave them bottles. A week later Gordon came back to pick up Malaysia.

“Whenever I went there they were by themselves,” she said. 

After several weeks with little or no childcare, imagine that one day Aunt Teanna arrives home from work and snaps. Shakes the baby to shut her up. It only takes a few seconds to do fatal damage.

Or imagine it was one of Arnold’s boys, children themselves, who didn’t change DaCayla’s poopy diaper and taped her mouth shut and put her in the washing machine because there was no adult in the house to stop them and they were tired of hearing her crying all the time. 

We don’t know exactly what happened to DaCayla or when, but she arrived at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in a coma on May 19. She had a bruise on her forehead and blood in her eyes. The autopsy said DaCayla had suffered blunt force trauma.

She was on a breathing machine for five weeks and never came to. “The hospital wanted to make me take her off the plug,” Hill recalled.  She wanted to do it at 4:44 pm because that was the time she was born. “She fought for a good minute but she passed at 5:13 pm,” Hill said. 

DCS acted quickly and removed the remaining two children from Arnold’s house and placed them in a foster home on May 19. And for once, DCS showed some common sense and compassion. Caseworker Jamine Pena helped with the funeral and arranged for Da’Cari and 10-year old La’Marah to be placed with Tanga Lyle, Dominque’s Mom, in the second week of June. They stayed with her for seven months. 

A Broken System

“I can’t even remember how many times I went to court. It was court date after court date and its’ still court date after court date,” Hill said. Juvenile Court Judge Tim Barnes finally dismissed the case and released the children into Hill’s custody on November 23. 

This is the last photo Lacreesha Hill has of all her children together. L-R:  La’Marah, DaCayla (in swing), Malaysia, Da’Cari with back turned.)

DCS controls all that litigation. They change caseworkers frequently. Hill had four. Parents are not informed and cases get strung out because the original caseworker doesn’t show up in court to petition the judge to dismiss them. DCS forces parents to go through ‘educational” workshops. In Hill’s case they made her go through them twice. 

DCS delays and ineptness are actually designed inefficiency to keep children in the system. Federal law requires states to file a motion to terminate parental rights if a child has been in foster care for 15 out of the previous 22 months unless there are compelling reasons not to file. The department’s foster care system requires fresh recruits and the federal rule helps DCS get them. Each one has a dollar sign on their back.

The Department of Children’s Services doesn’t play nice with children—or their parents—pretty ironic considering the department spent $900 million last year to provide “children’s services” to the state’s neediest children. Two were given a death sentence: DaCayla Green of Clarksville died in June and Vincent Carter of Chattanooga died in September 2021. Eight others met the same fate.

DCS spends much of its time and most of that money running a carceral system that preys on poor families by removing young children from their homes to feed a vast network of foster homes scattered across the state. It is an expensive system.

DCS’s budget goes up every year because they keep sweeping more children into custody. (See https://tntribune.com/dcs-by-the-numbers/)

Alabama gets better outcomes with a much smaller budget. DCS should look to neighboring states and measure success by spending its nearly $1 billion/yr. reducing the number of children in foster care instead of increasing it. 

DCS started the Hill case in January 2021. They did not release the children to their Mom until November 2021. But DCS has not stopped hounding the Dad, Dominique Green.

DaCayla, Dominique, and Da’Cari Green

DCS is prosecuting him in Montgomery County Circuit Court for aggravated child abuse and endangerment for a child under 8. He was served on November 9. It’s about Da’Cari’s accidental Percocet overdose back in January 2021.

It’s a malicious prosecution. DCS had to give the kids back to Hill but somebody has to pay and Green is a convenient scapegoat. It should be DCS in the dock instead to account for their role in DaCayla Green’s cruel and unnecessary death on June 16, 2021. Nobody’s holding them to account. 

Join the Conversation

21 Comments

  1. This breaks my heart. The family should have never endured this nightmare, and little DaCayla should have celebrated her 1st birthday. Just one story of thousands that have terrible outcomes because the system is broken and the case workers are understaffed and/or underqualified. What changes can be made to have happier and more successful outcomes??

  2. While your article is a good wealth of information some things need to be told as well. Emergency Fire truck was first on the scene police and ambulance came after. The police considered the public housing a drug infested area with guess assumptions had the ambulance personnel administer Narcan. The Parents was told before the ambulance left to take Da’Cari to the hospital that he had swollowed suboxone in which neither parent had ever heard of. Then the police on the scene called a drug detective to come to Lacreesha’s home were the both of the parents where being kept from going to the hospital. And DCS meet them 2 hours later at the Tennova hospital while their child was in route to Monroe Children Hospital. Jumping to conclusions DCS then prematurely took the children without having a toxicology report from Tennova, Just the words of a Detective than showed up late to the scene in my opinion the clarksville police should be held accountable as well. DCS delayed the case for dismissal by firing caseworker and hiring new caseworker who admittedly had no reports or paper trail to follow. Dominique said that when placing the children with Tianna DCS gave them no options they were told that children had to be placed with someone who had a 5 bedroom home because the children needed their own beds. I am not sure if a background check was done on Tianna cause none was ran on myself. Only was questioned by DCS in Davidson county at 2 or 3am after my grand daughter was taken to hospital. Ms. Hill never lost her rights as a parent but like you wrote they put many obstacles in her way trying to keep her children in the system even more so after her daughter was murdered. She repeated many of classes and recommendations referrels from the DCS supervisor Jasmin Pena to the point that made me mad. i called them up to complain to Jasmin that this case has went on long enough that what they were doing to Lacreesha and Dominique was punishing them for something that could have happen to anybody with small children. Her response was that Ms. Hill needed to admit to neglect so that they could had the case adjudicated. She even tried to charge her with neglect and ask me to convince Ms. Hill to accept the charges the day before her court date. I attended first court date with Ms. Hill and Mr, Green in which there was a warrant for charges that CPS had placed on Mr.Green for Child Neglect Charges. I had expressed many times to the parents that DCS is trying to cover their asses. Through out this whole ordeal DCS never really had the children best interest at heart. Even when placing with foster care they paid the foster care parents thousands of dollars to care for them but would not pay me anything knowing that i was out of work do to an injury. They were forcing the parents to pay me 30 each a month. The Parents gave more while missing days of work to take classes that only living life with children can teach them. Now that Dominique is being pursued for aggravated child neglect on top of losing his daughter,something no man has to face when DCS is suppose it protect your child when they took them. DSC think they are getting away but they should be held to a higher standard when they messing up they lives of family who love and nourish their children. They didn’t even say Sorry to them.

  3. Need to get a life of there own because most of them f up frfr so they do sh** like this because they need to feel better about themselves they pensents. Bottom feeders

  4. Green loves his kids I can attest to that. The pain he had in his eyes the cry out he had as he broke down in my living room is a pain I wish on no parent. To have taken these children out of their home to protect them and turn around and not protect them when it mattered is ridiculous. You can’t give this family back their child but they need to be held responsible and better led and rules and regulations be placed.

  5. DCS …. STOP!! trying to charge the father for your mistake the child was not in his custody when she passed and had not been for months you dropped the ball DCS own up to your own mess!

  6. Initially they wasn’t visiting the kids every day because there was limitations from the aunt and DCS. The aunt worked long hours and DCS gave them set hours to visit their children. When the aunt had off days they always visited.

  7. Baby Dacayla deserves justice! The system needs to be exposed and the corruption needs to stop! Rest In Peace sweet baby.

  8. DCS took my sister’s 5 children in Fort Lauderdale Florida Put them in the system denied her her rights of getting them back Adopted my 2 nieces out changed they last name I was her big sister and I was trying to get Them but by me having 8 kid’s They denied me but my kids was well taken care of I had a 6 Bedroom home and I’ve never been in trouble for anything

  9. This breaks my heart for this baby and his family. My grandson was taken away from my daughter in KY. She was on drugs and she was in the wrong. I begged KY social worker to let me have custody of my 3 yr old grandson and he shouldn’t have to go to a foster family. I’ve never been in trouble or done drugs ever. I volunteered to take any drug test and do whatever it takes to get him. He had lived with me and so did my daughter until just a couple months before she started staying with her pos bf in KY. I wouldn’t give up until I got him. It took me 1 yr to get him out of foster care and get him back home. I started calling Frankfort KY main office and complaining about Allen County dcs office. I’ve had him over 8 yrs last July. I officially adopted him Sept 25th 2020. He will be 13 in a few months. He was barely 4 when I got him. I feel like a lot of children that are taken should not be. And the kids that truly should be taken out of the home are left with the abusive parents. This beautiful baby shouldn’t have been taken from the parents in my opinion. Dcs should be held responsible for this babies death.

  10. Hello, my name is Makayla and I am showing my condolences. I’m so sorry that you and your babies had to be a victim to dcs. I will be praying for this family. One thing people don’t realize is there are alot of envious people who don’t want to see you make it and people do call DCS and lie to hurt you . It has happened to me many times. I just fought a hard battle to get mines back. This was my biggest fear. My heart goes out to this family. I’m so tired of the state ripping our babies away with little of no reason at all and sending them back broken into pieces or worst not sending them back at all. I have many friends who have even almost lost their children and some who have actually lost them due to lies. The system has been doing this to us for generations. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I grew up in the system from 3-18 I was in 54 foster homes by the time I aged out. Most of these foster people are using children as source of income. They neglect, abuse, and treat the foster kids as outsiders allowing their children to often bully and harm the foster kids if not the parents doing it themselves. They do not care for these children as their own. Only a true mother can give love to her babies that no one else can. A mothers instinct for her child is something you can’t build with a child that is not yours . DCS does not care this is a paycheck to them. It is a business that has to be ran in order to stay open. When will this stop. Enough is Enough.

  11. I don’t know if I misread this article or what, but why is the aunt not being charged as well? There is no way it’s legal to leave toddlers home alone.

  12. This is terrible, my heart hurts reading this. I am sorry for our flawed system!
    If people in position are supposed to protect our children are not being held to a higher standard then why are they even there? When the state sees dollar signs their are no limits to the savagery! It is so bad here in clarksville when a child needs to have someone step in, nothing happens. Yet children are being ripped away from home for ridiculous reasons! Sad fact of government here in Tennesse.

  13. My heart hurts for this family. There are children that need to be removed from the home, but it sounds like DCS jumped to quick here. I would be interested in knowing what the processes are to removing a child from the home, because in other cases like currently here in Dickson County, there are four children being starved, abused, and it’s been reported to DCS many many times and yet DCS are not removing the children from the home. This is a case I have personal involvement with. I have reported several times myself as well as other people. It seems like DCS is extremely left and right it’s decision making processes. And the only people that suffer are the children.

  14. I live in FL and going thru something similar….my caseworker set me up the day she asked to meet me at my home while I was in the car rider line picking up my daughter. My youngest son was with my mother in law at the time whom lives in my neighborhood. Anywho, me and my BD had some previous incidents where Domestic Violence was involved and he was the sole agressor so they said I couldnt be home alone without someone over 18….well my daughter’s dad agreed to do so since he was on paid medical leave from work. He left the same time as I did to go home and get clothes as well as his other young child…and I left with my uncle who lived with us at the time to go pickup my daughter from the car rider line a mile away. I was in that line when she text saying she needed to meet me. I agreed. When I got home my caseworker was already parked in my yard waiting…we got out went inside, (my daughter, uncle, case worker, and myself) and it was there where the case worker told me that I had just broken my case plan because since my Uncle’s background check had yet to come back, I was basically there by myself!!!! (Have you mind this was a Friday afternoon and I had been BEGGING this woman, calling her everyday since that prior MONDAY, asking if she had completed my uncle’s background yet so I would be ok to be home with my children when my daughter’s dad had to go back to work after his medical leave ended bc I knew the time was soon coming. Anyhow, after that she asked me two or three more silly questions like who would help me if I had a blown tire on the side of the road…umm I have road side assistance lady is what I told her. Well she smiled and waved and left! Very shortly thereafter my daughter’s dad arrived only to take his youngest and our daughter to the park. I laid down to rest because I was 8 months pregnant with twins at the time. My witchy caseworker arrived about 4 hours later telling me since I broke my case plan she was coming to take my children. I could have drove around all day long with my kids in my car that day had she not called and asked to meet me because the case plan was only wrapped around my home saying I couldn’t be home alone in order to protect my kids if my (pregnant son’s) father showed up creating chaos. Had she not asked to meet me everything would have been just fine!!! She set me up OCT. 12TH, 2019. I WILL NEVER FORGET. I HAVE NO RESPECT FOR THESE ANIMALS. DISCUSTING, FILTHY, HEARTLESS WASTE OF SPACE PEOPLE. THEY ARE COLD AND DOWNRIGHT EVIL. We need justice! These people are stealing are children, breaking apart families!! We need more PEOPLE with brains, and hearts, and compassion to look into these jobs and actually treat people with dignity!!!! Bless this child DCF should be held accountable 100%!!

    1. They want you to follow the rules but they make every excuse to there is to justify their inability to do their jobs

  15. My 2 yr. old great grand daughter was reported to DCS in Lawrenceburg Tn. in Feb. as a possible victim of child abuse, It was dismissed, she died 2 weeks later. and her service was on her 2nd. birthday, child protective services across the country need to be held accountable for the loss of these children. #JUSTICEFORANNELYNNE

  16. I’m reading this with tears streaming down my face and in total shock and disbelief. I’ve seen so many cases where DSC was so slow to act or failed to act entirely to the point where the abused child died because of their lack of response. This however, seems to be the exact opposite. They went overboard and out of their way to punish these parents for something that could have happened to ANYONE! It happened to me with one of my fur babies. No, I’m not comparing my fur baby to a human child, I’m saying I understand exactly HOW this could have happened to these parents. I thought I had picked up every single blood pressure pill I had spilled, but I missed ONE TINY LITTLE PILL. When my fur baby found it, she ate it without me knowing it and it lowered her blood pressure to the point of almost nothing. It wasn’t abuse just as it wasn’t abuse by these parents. It was a freak ACCIDENT! My heart truly breaks for these parents on the loss of that beautiful child. They are truly in my prayers and I hope they get justice. #JusticeForDaCayla

  17. I’m a mother of six, five are grown one is under 18 that I’m raising I’m from New Orleans where cps is basically non existent. I live in Texas now where I’m raising my last child and the first thing I noticed when I got here was this dirty game of cps system. The black women here when they don’t like someone or have a disagreement with someone or they boyfriend caught cheating with a women they call cps and lie on the mother to have her kids taken away. Being somewhere all my life and it was non-existent and watching this dirty system being played is shocking and my heart bleeds for the parents. I watched and then I did research and realized it’s a money game and its awful because children are involved and how can anyone with a conscience work for these people? I couldn’t work for cps i couldn’t be a cop snatching kids from there mothers arms while babies are crying inconsolable. That’s a dirty job and it’s dirty money and I can’t wait for my Lord and Savior to ride back through the sky and come down and judge each and everyone of the dirty SOB because you won’t be able to tell him “I was doing my job” there got to be something that we can do as a people to stop this madness! Whenever and whatever I’m there thats for sure! Rest in heaven sweet baby girl you will get your justice Jesus will get it for you

  18. After spending nearly 30 years in courtrooms across the state of Tennessee watching DCS, the only conclusion I can share is that DCS is insidious.
    They thrive on the power the rip children from their homes and place them with strangers. We cannot imagine, as adults, such a dramatic transition, and yet DCS workers do it every day. Half of the children they remove are under six years old: children whose whole world is the family they live with and perhaps a few close relatives. The psychological trauma of removal is ignored. We know that about 80% of the children removed from homes are done so on allegations of “neglect” not physical or sexual abuse. We know that DCS would rather place a child in a stranger’s home then place them with a relative or close family friend. The system is broken beyond repair. The workers that do develop relationships with parents and attempt to reunify the families are shut down by those “higher up” the food chain, for which I can only conclude are motivated with the endless Title IVe funds from the federal taxpayer funds that the state agency depends for nearly 40% of their annual budget. And for the bonus checks the agency receives when they adopt the child out to a stranger of which DCS received $768,000 in 2020.

    Top that with the inherent conflict of interest within the agency itself. A department called “Children’s Services” does little to service children and families and instead acts as a quasi-prosecutor that strives to adjudicate fault with the parents and label them as abusive. It is more of a government sectioned adoption agency than an agency whose public policy is to rehabilitate families. The agency must be shredded, and the services of families cannot be in constant conflict with an agency that wants your child severed from your life.

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