Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has begun his own review of Department of Children's Services data that indicate that 31 children in the state died during the first six months of 2012 who were either in state custody or who had been brought to the attention of child welfare workers before their deaths. The agency released the numbers last week in response to requests by the Tennessean and by state Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, who had asked repeatedly for the information over a two-month period.
The data revealed that 10 infants who were the subjects of open case files by DCS workers died between January and June. An additional 17 children died who had been investigated by DCS in the past. Four children died in state custody during the same time period. In releasing the data, a DCS attorney also acknowledged that the agency had failed to follow the law in routinely notifying lawmakers of each death or near-death of all children in their respective districts — whether DCS was involved with the children before their deaths or not.