PHOENIX (Wednesday, March 22, 2017) - The Arizona Department of Child Safety mourns the tragic loss of Landen Lavarnia and our thoughts and prayers go out to the children involved in this horrific incident.
When a senseless tragedy occurs and an innocent life is lost, we as a department are deeply affected because protecting children is our ultimate focus.
DCS is dedicated to finding justice for Landen and will assist law enforcement in every way possible.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety can confirm that Wendy Lavarnia and Kansas Lavarnia had a previous dependency case with DCS involving the child, Landen Lavarnia, who died on March 21, 2017.
On June 10, 2014, DCS received a report that Wendy Lavarnia, then named Wendy Rodriguez, gave birth to a baby who was substance exposed to methadone and heroin.
Ms. Lavarnia agreed to in-home services with DCS.
She was referred to participate in Family Preservation services in order to address parenting skills, substance abuse issues, and provide additional support for the family.
While receiving in-home services, Ms. Lavarnia tested positive for illegal substances.
Due to Ms. Lavarnia’s failure to provide adequate housing and to comply with services and the safety plan, DCS removed the Lavarnia children on August 20, 2014. The Department filed a dependency petition with the Maricopa County Juvenile Court.
Both parents participated in services and worked towards reunifying with their children. Both engaged in services to address their substance abuse and domestic violence issues. They also received intensive parenting training and successfully completed this service. The children were returned to their physical custody on November 15, 2015. However, the court maintained oversight and DCS maintained legal custody of the children.
On November 25, 2015, a report was received that Ms. Lavarnia’s baby was born substance exposed to methadone. The baby was doing well and Ms. Lavarnia had received prenatal care. The report was unsubstantiated, as methadone was prescribed by a doctor as part of Ms. Lavarnia’s treatment plan.
In March 2016, a Maricopa County Juvenile Court judge dismissed the dependency after the parents demonstrated they had made the appropriate behavioral changes to safely parent their children. The department continued to engage the family until the case closure in June 2016.
Landen’s three siblings are currently in DCS care. The department is committed to ensuring that they receive all support services possible given the trauma they have endured.