There are always signs. We need statewide guidelines to ensure that they get follow-up.
The fine article “Fumbled warnings cost kids their lives” (May 18) raised awareness about inconsistent responses to reports on child abuse and neglect in Minnesota. Erin Sullivan Sutton’s response — “In some of the cases, there was nothing to predict a child might die or be at risk” — was irresponsible. There are always predictors.
I am a retired St. Paul school administrator who worked with an amazing team of counselors and social workers who were tireless in advocating for students and families and in reporting suspected abuse and neglect. They were often frustrated by the lack of response from social services, but they were also often grateful for the thorough responses by many of the social-services workers.
That Eric Dean died after 15 abuse and neglect reports, with proof of his abuse, is unconscionable. One report should always place a child on alert and continued monitoring.
The need for statewide policies and guidelines is urgent. Safe Passage for Children has been focusing attention on this matter over the past few years. The result is legislation that will improve accountability and transparency. Nevertheless, citizens and the media ask why it is so difficult to get information on fatal or near-fatal child-abuse cases. Perhaps some finger-pointing at individual counties is necessary, but what is the role of the state Department of Human Resources in supervising counties?
Jonelle Ringnalda, St. Paul
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