Tennessee DCS Administrative policy 14.13, entitled Confidentiality of Child Protective Services Cases - http://www.state.tn.us/youth/dcsguide/policies/chap14/14.13.pdf NEEDS TO BE CHANGED to remove DCS’ shroud of secrecy which they claim is to protect the family’s privacy, but which is used by DCS to ditch their responsibilities and accountability.
(I) change Section A, Release of CPS investigative information, from: 1. CPS investigative information “MAY” be released to the following personnel: to: 1. CPS investigative information “SHALL” be released to the following personnel:
a) Employees or individuals responsible for supervising or administering the DCS Office of Child Safety; DCS Internal Affairs and all other DCS employees with a need to know;
b) Contractor or providers involved in delivering services to the family;
c) Professionals providing case consultation;
d) Local state or federal law enforcement agencies investigating a report of known or suspected child abuse or crimes against children; and
e) Any state licensing agency that licenses programs serving children that can provide a justification for a need-to-know.
(II) change Section A, Release of CPS investigative information, from: 2. Upon consultation and approval of DCS Legal Counsel, investigative information “MAY” be shared with other agencies, professionals and individuals that includes, but not limited to:, to: 2. Upon consultation and approval of DCS Legal Counsel, investigative information “SHALL” be shared with other agencies, professionals and individuals that includes, but not limited to:
a) Child’s primary caretaker or parent with any custodial rights,
b) Child Abuse Review Team (CART),
c) Child Protective Investigation Team (CPIT),
d) Foster Care Review Board (FCRB),
e) Professionals who are providing treatment for the child, the perpetrator, or the non-offending parent,
f) Teaching professionals or child care providers,
g) District Attorney General or U.S. attorney (or authorized assistants) representing the judicial district involved in the case,
h) Court holding jurisdiction over a case, including divorce cases,
i) Grand jury, by subpoena,
j) Guardian ad litem assigned to the child,
k) Other persons as ordered by the court,
l) Other state or federal agencies investigating cases of child abuse or neglect,
m) State and local Child Fatality Review Teams,
n) Probation or parole officers preparing pre-sentencing or other court related reports or supervising probationers or parolees,
o) Individuals, who are conducting scientific and governmental research on child abuse and neglect, provided that the Department has formally approved such research.
An article in the “Tennessean” entitled “DCS provided inaccurate data on child abuse, commissioner says” is available at http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012310100098 . Also see DCS chief to review processes on child abuse reports, http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012310050030
DCS plays fast and loose with the welfare of defenseless children, then hides behind a shroud of "confidentiality" aka a shroud of secrecy/unaccountability. Children whose cases are classified as NOT severe abuse are left to wallow, because, as a DCS worker stated to me, they are concerned with cases where children/babies have been thrown against a wall, but anything less than that is not of a concern to them. Even severe cases are classified at a lower rating, and I believe this is another tactic to avoid work. How many abusers start out with severe abuse, or do they normally start small and progress as the perpetrator gets away with it?
DCS relies on their shroud of confidentiality to not do their job, and to keep hidden the fact that THEY DO NOT DO THEIR JOB. I say, we need to remove that shroud and change their implementing guidance from "may" to "shall" SO THAT THEY ARE ALWAYS ACCOUNTABLE and know that someone outside of their agency is looking over their shoulder making sure they are doing their job for the benefit of abused/neglected children in Tennessee, no matter what degree of abuse/neglect is occurring.