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Van Buren County protesters demand change amid harsh CPS report

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Van Buren County protesters demand change amid harsh CPS report. (WWMT/Cyrus Raymond)

Governor Rick Snyder appointed a new director for an agency that serves as a watchdog of the state's child welfare system as several gathered in Van Buren County to demand more.

Cynthia Ernst, the grandmother of Sophia Ernst-Kuscrea, was among the dozens of protesters gathered outside the Van Buren County Courthouse to demand more from Child Protective Services.

Ernst said, “There are a lot of gaps in the system and my granddaughter happened to fall through one of those gaps.”

Sophia died from suffocation last week after police said Kate George, her stepmother, stuffed socks in her mouth and taped it shut.

Ernst said that CPS came to the home several times, but did nothing.

Ernst said, “I had to go and pick out a site for my granddaughter to be buried. What grandmother wants to do that?”

A report last week found that CPS failed to complete some face-to-face interactions with alleged child victims in a timely manner, did not refer investigations to prosecutors and did not accurately assess a child's risk of harm.

Synder appointed Orlene Hawks to lead a review of CPS after the report from last week.

Snyder called the findings “unacceptable.”

George is charged with murder, torture, and child abuse.

Family members say Sophia was likely dead for several hours before police arrived.