House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner is requesting that an investigation be opened into the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and its refusal to release records relating to the abuse and death of children under state supervision.
On Thursday, Turner sent a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey requesting they convene a joint government operations committee meeting to investigated the department, following allegations that social workers have returned children to homes where there is evidence of abuse.
There have also been claims that the department is withholding evidence relating to the abuse and death of children while under DCS custody and care.
“The mission of the Department of Children’s Services is too important for them to operate in secrecy,” Turner said in a press release. “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.”
Multiple Tennessee media outlets have recently been denied an open records request that sought to shed some light into the tragic deaths of children under the agency’s supervision.
This follows news that the agency failed to disclose these deaths as required by law.
The desire for more information stems from reports that department officials have failed to protect children from abuse by allowing victims of child abuse to remain in the custody of their abusers.
“If Gov. Haslam is unwilling to take the appropriate steps to protect the lives of children, then we must force him,” said Democratic Rep. Sherry Jones, who represents the 59th District in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
“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,” she said. “I hope that my Republican colleagues will join me in pushing for more transparency and accountability that will move DCS forward.”