Panel Looks For Answers Into County
July 6, 2006
death of any child is tragic, but when dozens of children die while
in care of the county there are a lot of questions that should be
The Child Death Review panel is
taking a closer look at the suspicious cases of 79 children who were
part of the Clark County child welfare system when they died between
the years of 2001 and 2004.
Panel member Susan Gerhardt said,
"The cases we're looking at now are the worst-case scenarios."
At the request of the state, this
panel of experts will try to determine what, if anything went wrong
in these cases and whether the deaths of those children could have
Gerhardt continued, "These are not
just numbers, these are children who have died."
The panel has identified numerous
deficiencies and gaps in the current child welfare system including
poor case management, bad record keeping, overcrowded shelters, a
critical lack of foster care homes, and an overall lack of
Incident follow-up is another big
concern of the Child Death Review panel. The group talked about one
specific case where it took a social worker more than 500 days to
check on the welfare and safety of siblings in a home where a child
died. That's a year and a half.
Gerhardt said, "We all agree that
there are serious problems. The system is broken at this point."
The 73-page draft contains the
panel's recommendations for overhauling the whole family and child
Susan Gerhardt explained, "The
different departments are taking the recommendations very seriously
and some have even started implementing some of the
Some of those urgent changes
included improving the child abuse hotline where callers have been
known to wait up to 20 minutes to get through.
Ann Rubin, with Clark County Family
Services, said, "We hired five additional hotline workers to work
during the peak hours during the day and we have doubled the number
of lines we have for people to call us."
The Child Death Review panel has
set a December 2006 deadline for completing its plan of action.
Send feedback to reporter Alyson
McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org