DCS Under Fire for Delay in Child Death Data

Democratic state Rep. Sherry Jones has been waiting more than two months for the Department of Children’s Services to tell her how many children have died this year while in state custody or while subject to an abuse investigation, reports The Tennessean.
DCS has come under increasing scrutiny for its inability to perform basic agency functions, such as making payments to foster parents, keeping accurate records and properly documenting social workers’ response times to incidents of child abuse, reports The Tennessean.
“I know these deaths are occurring all across the state because they’re reported in the media,” Jones said. “But the state should be able to tell us how many children have died who were in their care or who they had a report on.
“The information that I asked for should be available every single day through the department. It’s ridiculous, totally ridiculous, that it takes so long to get information from them.”
DCS spokeswoman Molly Sudderth said Monday that the agency continued to work on gathering the information, but she did not specify when it would be available. “We will work to get this to you as soon as possible,” she said.
…A new $37 million computer system intended to track each child who has contact with DCS has been cited as a failure in keeping tabs on information the agency is legally required to keep.
…A March report issued by the Tennessee comptroller’s office criticized department officials, including its chief, Commissioner Kathryn “Kate” O’Day, for going forward with the system in the first place despite being aware it had “significant problems.”

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