Tag Archives: redactions

DCS Hides Cause of Death in Some Child Death Files

Newly released records from the Department of Children’s Services contain substantial redactions of information that prevent the public from learning in some cases how children died, according to the Tennessean.
One DCS file describes a 17-month-old girl found not breathing and blue after her afternoon nap. Her family had a “vast history” of DCS interventions that stretched back eight years. But lengthy redactions conceal doctors’ conclusions about whether the toddler had suffered abuse or neglect before her death.
Those omissions from her file make it impossible to learn why an otherwise healthy child simply died. DCS notes say the agency closed the case without finding child abuse or neglect and before the agency had viewed the autopsy.
The girl’s records are among 44 newly released DCS case files of children who had been the subject of a child abuse or neglect report at some point before they died or suffered critical injuries in the latter half of 2011 and early 2012. The files were released under court order after The Tennessean led a coalition of media groups in filing a lawsuit to gain access to the records.
Many of the records contain rows of blacked-out sentences that conceal the cause and circumstance of a child’s death, the nature of injuries or illnesses, and the concerns of medical professionals. Many of the redactions appear random.