Suffolk County launches internal probes into Thomas Valva’s death

Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone announced Tuesday that three different investigations will look into what went wrong in the custody dispute over 8-year-old Thomas Valva.

News 12 Staff

Jan 28, 2020, 10:47 AM

Updated 1,574 days ago

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Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone announced Tuesday that three different investigations will look into what went wrong in the custody dispute over 8-year-old Thomas Valva.
The boy's father Michael Valva, 40, and his fiancée Angela Pollina, 42, are accused of murder after police say the child was forced to spend the night in the family's frigid garage in Center Moriches.
“I want to make sure we have in place systems, policies, procedures throughout the whole system,” Bellone said.
As News 12 has reported, Thomas Valva's biological mother says her estranged husband abused all three of her sons, and that nothing was done despite her reports to police, judges and Child Protective Services.
Suffolk County's new response plan includes an internal review of the county's Department of Social Services policies, a review by the state Office of Children and Family Services and the creation of a legislative task force.
“This is an opportunity to better fund and better train,” said Anthony Zenkus, a family violence trauma expert.
Zenkus said he personally trained over 1,000 family and criminal court judges in New York state in 2018, but added that that session lasted just one hour.
“It's not enough,” Zenkus added.
When asked about staffing and the case load faced by each CPS field worker, a Bellone spokesman says Suffolk County has 13 more caseworkers on the job now as compared to 2015, and that each caseworker has an average of 12 cases at the end of each month.
Wakes for Thomas Valva will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Mangano Funeral Home in Deer Park.
A funeral Mass will be held Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. at Saint Elizabeth Church in Melville. Thomas will then be laid to rest at Saint Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.
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