Report Notes “Significant Problems” in Handling of Severe Child Abuse Cases

(Memphis) A new report just released is questioning whether the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is doing enough to protect victims of severe child abuse.

The Second Look Commission was established for the sole purpose of reviewing the worst child abuse cases across the state.

The idea is to examine the cases and come up with ways to prevent the same thing from happening to more children.

The On Your Side Investigators have been researching child deaths in Shelby County for months.

The commission’s report comes just weeks after WREG joined a coalition of media outlets suing DCS for greater access to certain public records.

The 23-page report from the Second Look Commission reveals findings from cases closed prematurely to inadequate training.

The SLC reviewed a sample of cases in which children experienced severe or subsequent abuse.

The report notes “significant problems” in the way severe child abuse cases are handled in Tennessee.

The commission once again found DCS continues to focus on incident driven investigations rather than issues, which experts say gets to the core of the problem.

WREG On Your Side Investigators spoke with commission member and DCS Executive Director of Child Safety Carla Aaron in October to see if DCS had made any changes regarding this very issue.  The SLC’s 2011 report included the same finding.

“When a report comes to our attention, it’s usually about a broken bone or an incident and it’s very easy to go and look at that one incident of abuse or neglect and we’re really trying to train our staff and put some focus on the entire family situation,” said Aaron.

Some of the commission’s recommendations include more cross training for agencies that deal with child abuse, as well as more funding for case worker positions at DCS.

WREG spoke with the commission’s executive director just before the report was complete and he also says there’s a need to improve communication between DCS, law enforcement and medical providers.

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