DCS posts records on Tennessee child deaths

Associated Press • Nov 14, 2013 at 1:26 PM

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Children's Services has begun posting records related to child death investigations on its website.

The Tennessean reports the agency has posted more than 3,600 pages of documents about deaths or severe injuries suffered by 64 children during the last six months of 2012.

The move is a sharp contrast to the agency's stance a year ago, when it refused to make any such records public.

In response, The Tennessean and other media groups filed suit seeking the records. A judge ordered the agency in April to turn over the records and a court battle is continuing over the cost of the documents.

Government transparency advocates praised the agency's decision to post the records, which redact personal information, online.

"This is good news and a step in the right direction for openness in government," said Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

"Public records — in this case investigative reports that we understand will be properly redacted to protect privacy — can shed light on the terrible problem of child fatalities in Tennessee and could lead to real solutions. It's good to see the department take that step."

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