Suffolk County To Form Task Force To Review CPS After 8-Year-Old's Death

Sophia Hall
January 28, 2020 - 11:02 am
Thomas Valva

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Suffolk County will form a task force to review Child Protective Services following the death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva.

The county's executive, Steve Bellone, announced Monday that an internal review would be performed in Valva's case, and a task force would be appointed to review CPS's policies in relation to children with autism and other disabilities.

"Specifically, we need to look at cases involving kids with autism or other developmental challenges to make sure these cases are being handled appropriately and that these kids are protected," Bellone told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall. "Whatever action needs to be taken, we will take."

Valva, who had autism, was found dead at his father's house in Center Moriches on Jan. 21. His father, Michael Valva, and his fiancée, Angela Pollina, said at the time that the boy had fallen in the driveway.

But authorities on Long Island determined that the boy had frozen to death after his father locked him in an unheated garage overnight, when the temperatures dipped below freezing. Michael Valva and Pollina were arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Angela Pollina and Michael Valva
Suffolk County Police

Thomas and his two brothers were living with their father, an NYPD transit officer, as their parents went through a divorce. The boys' mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, has now gained custody of her other two sons.

Authorities have said when the boys were living with their father, they were starved, hit, and forced to wear diapers even though they were old enough to use the bathroom.

Zubko-Valva said she had warned the courts that her sons were in danger, and that teachers from the boys' school had alerted authorities about possible abuse.

"We are going to make sure that whatever needs to be looked at or changed in this system as a result of this case will be done, and while that is certainly not going to bring back this beautiful boy we are going to make sure that this case serves as an example of change in a system," Bellone said.

New York City Mayor de Blasio called the allegations "incredibly troubling."

"I don't understand how any human being does that to a child, I especially don't understand how a sworn officer does that. I think this is someone when all the facts are proven this is someone who should burn in hell," the mayor said Tuesday.

The funeral for Thomas is set for Thursday morning.