Tennessee DCS going public about child deaths

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 12/16/2013 6:45 pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) -  The Tennessee Department of Child Services says the new year will bring more transparency when it comes to reporting child deaths.

Within two business days of a child's death, DCS will publicly release information such as age, gender and whether there was a history of DCS involvement.

"Then after that, we'll follow up with a report of whether there was any substantiated claims of abuse or neglect in that death and then ultimately; after the case has been reviewed, we'll post redacted versions of that also on our website," said DCS spokesperson Rob Johnson.

DCS has already begun posting records related to child death investigations on its website. But those are from last year and the information is somewhat limited. Independent organizations that partner with DCS like Chambliss Center for Children in Chattanooga said DCS is making the right decision.

"Transparency is always the best policy and when things aren't reported people think you're trying to hide something which I don't think DCS has ever tried to hide anything, said Philip Acord who is the president and CEO of Chambliss Center for Children.

DCS has a reputation problem that started more than a year ago as a result of inconsistent reporting of child deaths.

"This is the result of having to deal with some unpleasant situations and trying to fix something that wasn't working and I think this commissioner and department has now said this is the way we're going to handle this in the future and it's in everyone's best interest  so this should take care of the problem and I think it will," Acord said.

Those changes take effect January 1st.

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