A review of Suffolk County Child Protective Services is underway after some questioned why the agency had not done more to protect an 8-year-old Center Moriches boy allegedly killed by his father.
An internal review committee is reviewing the case of Thomas Valva, who police said froze to death Jan. 17 after his father, New York City police officer Michael Valva, and his fiancée, Angela Pollina, allegedly left the boy in an unheated garage overnight. The boy’s mother had raised concerns that he was being abused.
“As a parent, I am horrified by what happened to this beautiful boy,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “As county executive, I want to know if there’s anything else that could have been done under existing law to prevent this from happening. Beyond that, I want to know if anything in this case suggests that changes should be made to existing policy or law.”
The review will be overseen by the new Suffolk County Department of Social Services Commissioner, Frances Pierre. Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn and Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman will also co-chair a task force that will focus on procedures for cases that involve children with autism or other developmental disabilities.
Thomas Valva had autism. The boy’s mother was also concerned that the boy’s 10-year-old brother was being abused. After the arrest, police said the boys were subjected to extreme punishment. The brother and four other children were removed from the house after the Thomas’ death.
“This is a horrendously heart-wrenching tragedy that has shaken our community to its core,” Hahn said. “We owe it to Thomas Valva, his abused siblings, his broken-hearted mother and every child currently, or who may one day be under supervision to scrutinize every element of this case to help prevent another incident from ever happening again.”
Both the father and Pollina pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and were ordered held without bail. They are due back in Suffolk County court on Wednesday.