An agency mean to help
children was under fire after being repeatedly found to be lacking in
the care of the children they placed in foster homes. United Care of
California had complaints of children being, choked, hit, children
being whipped with belts and a child died while swimming in a pool with
no adult supervision.
Kiana Baker was a foster mother with United Care and Viola Aundra
Vanclief ending up dying at her hands even though she had at least five
complaints filed against her. People were wondering how this mother,
who was proven to have severely neglected her own child in 2002 and was
living with a man who had a criminal record, could have ever been
approved to be a foster parent. State rules would have disqualified
both of these adults from being foster parents.
Sadly, Viola was moved from the home of her mother which was considered
to be high risk because her mother was Schizophrenic and would go off
of her medications and neglect her. Viola was placed into the home of
Kiana Baker, another high risk home where she was killed when Kiana
beat her in the head with a hammer.
Claudia Barker said that she had gone to the Doctor on the day that
Viola died and when she came home she heard her granddaughter screaming:
"Grandma, she's not
Claudia said that Kiana was hysterical and she said that Viola was not
breathing and that she had low blood sugar. James was said to have
tried to revive her, but Viola did not respond. Claudia said that Kiana
has two biological children, both daughters who were six months and
nine years old, as well as Viola, the foster child and that she had
been together with James for about three years.
Kiana had a home day care center, however, she had closed it due to a
lack of children coming for care. Kiana had become a licensed foster
parent about a year before Viola died:
"She has many children
come through there until the mamas take their children back"
A friend said that he has known Kiana for about either years and never
know her to be a bad person:
"She was more of a
spiritual lady, not a violent lady. I don't know what happened"
Kiana told Police that Viola had become trapped in a bed frame and that
when she was trying to get her out, she used a hammer and accidentally
hit her in the head while trying to get her free. An autopsy showed
that Viola had many bruises all over her body. Two weeks after her
death, officials were trying to figure out how Kiana could have become
a foster parent with what was known about her past:
"I'm still in the
information gathering phase. I'm still pulling the state regs to
was responsible to assess the history and who was responsible to follow
the subsequent hotline calls. It's a complicated and complex analysis"
Ploehn - Department Of Children And Family Services Director
The head of the State Community Care Licensing Division, Jeff
Kiratsuka, was not able to give an explanation as for why the neglect
that Kiana's daughter suffered did not disqualify her from becoming a
foster parent and he said he wasn't sure if the neglect had been
reported to the state database or not:
"We need to gather more
Lopez - Spokeswoman
Sonja Vanclief, sister of Viola said that she and her family regretted
that she had ever been taken from her mother:
"These people should go
and do whatever time. Viola was a baby and she was defenseless
they were supposed to protect her"
Sonja said that the County was sloppy at doing their job. Viola had
come to the attention of Child Welfare a short time after she was born
when her mother stopped taking her medication. The policy of the
agencies is to try to reunite children with their families, to keep
families together whenever possible and Viola was given back to her
mother and the agency tried to help her as much as they could to take
proper care of the baby.
Seven months after she was reunited with her mother, Viola was once
again removed from the home when it was discovered that her mother
stopped taking her medication, was using cocaine and had been violent
towards another person. Proceedings were started to get the mothers
rights to Viola taken away and a short time later, Viola went to live
Since the year 2002, Kiana had at least five complaints against her,
including the neglect of her own child. Calls came in for complaints
about emotional abuse, which was not substantiated, a complaint of
neglect against two foster children in 2008, which was unsubstantiated
and another for neglect and sexual abuse of a foster child, which also
was unsubstantiated. State laws say that even the unsubstantiated
complaints should have been listed in the records and should have
prevented Kiana from obtaining both a license for home day care as well
as for being a foster parent. The records also showed that James'
Police record went undetected for three years and that should have
disqualified him and he should not have been living in a home with
Four months later, in July of 2010, Kiana Barker who was 30 years old
and James Julian, who was 38 years old, were arrested on charges of
murder, child abuse and dissuading a witness. Kiana's bail was set at
$1.1 million and James was held on $1.6 million bond. Investigators
were working to put together the timeline leading up to Viola's death.
Medical experts helped in the area of the injuries to Viola and
interviews were used to figure out where Kiana had been at the time of
"It was very difficult
to put together a timeline"
Viola's death came just as approval for adoption was being finalized by
the Department Of Children And Family Services. After Viola died, Los
Angeles County ended their relationship with United Care. As well as
the many complaints against them over the years, county auditors found
irregularities in their financial area that had taken place since 2007.
In October of 2013, Kiana Barker, who was 33 year old by then, was
convicted of second degree murder as well as assault on a child,
causing death and child abuse, in the death of Viola, she was facing 25
years to life in prison. Pictures were shown of the injuries Viola had,
laying on a hospital bed, battered and bruised:
"It's hard to imagine a
mother beating her child to death. The evidence in this case
only simply, it's overwhelming. Justice was served"
Attorney - Pat Kouch
Kiana was said to be a violent woman who had beaten her own biological
child with a belt and then whipped Viola until she died from the blunt
force trauma of the beatings. Defense Lawyer, Robert Haberer said that
James Julian, who Kiana had married only one month before Viola died,
had been the one to beat Viola. Robert said that Kiana had lied to
Police when she had originally told them that James was not living with
her and that she knew he was a convicted felon when she married him and
she was aware that she was violating foster care rules by doing so.
In February of 2014, Kiana Barker, by then 34 years old, was sentenced
to 25 years to life.
In 2011, James Julian had plead no contest to being an accessory and
was sentenced to only three years in prison for his role in Viola's
Viola was at first buried in an unmarked grave until money was finally
raised to get her a headstone.
April 6, 2007 - March 4, 2010
Viola was born on April 6, 2007
and passed away on Thursday, March 4, 2010.
Viola was a resident of
Sadly, nothing more is said about Viola in her obituary.