Haslam: Child Deaths ‘Distressing,’ But DCS Not at Fault

A review of the deaths of 31 Tennessee children this year who had come to the attention of the Department of Children’s Services while they were alive was “incredibly distressing” but yielded no immediate evidence that the agency had acted inappropriately, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday.
Further from The Tennessean:
“I spent the weekend looking at reports,” said Haslam in a meeting he requested with The Tennessean to address emerging controversy over the agency in recent weeks.
“You look at enough of these, and if you don’t have an upset stomach at the end of the day, something’s wrong with you,” he said. “It’s incredibly distressing and depressing. But I do think this: I can’t tell you I’ve exhaustively reviewed every case. But from what I’ve reviewed, I do think DCS has taken appropriate action.”
Haslam’s review encompassed 11 cases that remain under an open investigation. In 14 other cases, the agency has been unable to substantiate abuse or neglect, said DCS chief Kate O’Day, who accompanied the governor. In one case of a mother leaving a child unattended in the bathtub, there was an indication of abuse.
The agency has come under criticism on several fronts. The agency’s chief lawyer conceded last week that DCS had been violating a state law that required it to report each death of a child under investigation to lawmakers. The agency’s former legislative director, Aaron Campbell, subsequently stepped forward, saying he had personally briefed O’Day and other agency officials on their legal obligation to make those reports.

Leave a Reply