mike turnerDemocrats are calling for an investigation into the deaths children in the care of the Department of Children Services. Newspaper report that 151 children in DCS’s care have died since 2009. In 47 of those cases, the agency had investigated the children and confirmed neglect or abuse.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner sent a letter to Governor Bill Haslam, Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey requesting a joint committee be convened to investigate the Department of Children’s Services and its refusal to release records relating to the abuse and death of children under its care and reports that they have returned children to homes where there is evidence of abuse.

“The mission of the Department of Children’s Services is too important for them to operate in secrecy,” said Chairman Turner. “It is well past time that we have a full accounting of problems within the agency, so we can determine how best to move forward and fix them.”

The agency initially failed to disclose these deaths as required by law. Multiple Tennessee media outlets have been denied an open records request that sought to shed some light into the tragic deaths of children under the agency’s supervision. The desire for more information stems from reports that the Department of Children’s Services has failed to protect children from abuse by allowing victims of child abuse to remain in the custody of their abusers.

“If Governor Haslam is unwilling to take the appropriate steps to protect the lives of children, then we must force him,” said Rep. Sherry Jones, who has been a leading advocate in the effort to protect children in DCS’ care. “Over the past two years, the leadership of DCS has moved our state backward in respect to disclosure of records and in protecting children from child abuse. I hope that my Republican colleagues will join me in pushing for more transparency and accountability that will move DCS forward.

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