The Tennessee Department of Children's Services must make public more information about the deaths of children who had prior involvement with the agency, reports the Tennessean. Judge Carol McCoy ordered DCS to release copies of the forms agency employees fill out when a child dies. Those forms will provide more information than DCS has so far provided to the Tennessean, the judge wrote, including more about the cause of death, the department’s prior involvement with the children, results of prior contact and services provided to the children who later died.
“DCS has a statutory duty to provide the non-confidential information as an essential function and integral part of its routine duties,” McCoy wrote. The ruling came in response to lawsuit filed by the newspaper, joined by a coalition of a dozen other news organizations, alleging that DCS violated the law by refusing to provide the records of children who died after being brought to the agency’s attention. The Tennessean made requests over a three-month period for information about 31 children who died in the first half of 2012 — and regarding 206 children involved in fatal and near-fatal incidents dating back to 2009.