Tag Archives: deadlines

Judge Imposes Deadlines for DCS Disclosure

A federal judge on Friday said he has become impatient with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services’ inability to accurately count child deaths and issued firm deadlines for officials to make improvements, according to The Tennessean.
Judge Todd J. Campbell ordered DCS to give child fatality records to a child advocacy watchdog group within seven days and to overhaul the department’s child fatality review process within 90 days.
And the judge again questioned the reliability of department data and said time is running out for DCS to fix the computer system it uses to keep records.
“This is too important to keep pushing deadlines down the road,” Campbell said. The judge scheduled the hearing months ago to check in on DCS, which must improve its care of foster children, according to a federal court order. A class action lawsuit known as “Brian A.” prompted a settlement agreement in 2001 and set up a team of experts to monitor DCS.
The department made enough progress by 2010 that the judge agreed to an exit plan under which DCS would be released from court-ordered monitoring. But recent problems have concerned the judge and the New York-based child advocacy group Children’s Rights, which joined with Tennessee attorneys to sue in 2000.
Problems continue to surface. A day before the hearing, state officials disclosed that the deaths of nine children in state custody had gone unreported for months — raising the number of custodial deaths in the past two years to 25. The revelation spurred Gov. Bill Haslam to appoint special adviser Larry Martin to probe the department.