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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

N.J. to limit disclosure of child death details

State reports on child-death cases will no longer include details of the Division of Youth and Family Services' prior actions,the Star-Ledger reported. State officials say the federal monitor who oversees child welfare reform provides enough oversight; reports will now simply include trends rather than the histories of the deceased children who were involved with a state program. Officials say the decision was made "out of respect for surviving family members;" however, it was the release of details in the 2003 death case of 7-year-old Faheem Williams that led to DYFS reform. State law does require the department to disclose the name, birthday, date of death and whether the families of fatal child abuse victims were under DYFS supervision. However, the Child Advocate reports provided more details than required, details that often led to policy changes.

Leaders at the agencies most responsible for New Jersey's child-protection agency say the state no longer will publicly disclose the details of DYFS prior actions when a child it has supervised dies from abuse or neglect.

The decision signals a change in policy after the state issued annual reports detailing what happened in each child-death case for the past six years. Instead, the state will issue reports focusing on trends it has found.

State officials say reporting individual cases is not a useful way to assess how the child-welfare system is working and publicizing details could hurt victims' families. They say with a federal monitor overseeing child welfare reform, there is enough oversight.

More here.

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