DCS lawyers uncertain about child deaths - WSMV Channel 4

DCS lawyers uncertain about child deaths

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -

Lawyers for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services told a federal judge that they are not 100-percent certain they know how many children died while in the agency's custody over the past few years.

This fall, DCS said 151 children who had previous contact with the agency died between January 2009 and mid-2012.

A statement from Gov. Bill Haslam issued late Thursday revealed nine additional deaths and announced that the governor was appointing a senior adviser in his office to conduct an analysis of DCS operations.

The agency was in federal court on Friday to report on its progress toward getting out from under a consent order that requires independent monitoring of DCS. It was an independent monitor who discovered the additional deaths.

In a statement, Gov. Bill Haslam said:

"By law, we have an obligation to protect the confidentiality of children and families receiving services from the Department of Children's Services as well as those who report abuse. This is not an obligation that we can casually dismiss or ignore when we get a public records request. Disclosing confidential information is a criminal violation. As the legislature determined when it passed the law, it is critical that we protect families and those who take the risk of reporting abuse. We have been trying to follow this direction from the outset."

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