Child abuse deaths online 

DHS starts posting, thanks to new law

The webpage of the state Department of Human Services has a grim new feature: A link to fatalities and near fatalities reported to the Child Abuse Hotline.

Since July 30, DHS has posted — as required by legislation passed by the legislature earlier this year —details on five deaths and one near-death.

The children range in age from 2 months to 4 years. Two died and one nearly died of drug ingestion due to due to suspected neglect or inadequate supervision. A third died from trauma due to suspected physical abuse. A fifth case was about a death that occurred in 2003 but was just reported to the hotline. None of the five had had contact with DHS.

Acts 674 and 675 of 2009 require the Department of Human Services to provide bare bones information about hot line reports, the amount of detail depending on whether an investigation is pending, found to be true or reported but not substantiated.

The act was passed after it became known that four children died in foster care last year. DHS said at the time it could not provide any details about the cases, citing its interpretation of a state statute to forbid the release of any information on pending child abuse investigations.

On Friday, DHS released a report that said 29 children who had been involved with the agency since May 2008 had died; seven of them were from suspected abuse.

The Times has filed an FOI with the agency for information on the seven.

Social workers, day care center workers, shelter employees, foster parents, clinicians and other professionals are mandated to report suspected abuse or neglect to the hotline, maintained by the State Police. DHS has 72 hours to publish on its website hotline information on deaths and near-deaths it receives from the State Police. DHS spokesman Julie Munsell follows up on the notices with local authorities; she said she's had to educate police agencies around the state about the new law. The police can prohibit the release of information if they provide DHS written justification for that decision.

Fatalities and non-fatalities posted on the DHS website (www.state.ar.us/dhs) so far:

Silford Travon Jordan, 4 months, died July 30 from drug ingestion as a result of suspected neglect. The Little Rock Police Department and the Crimes Against Children Division of the State Police are investigating.

Aaron Bradley Emmons, 4, died May 11 of a drug overdose as result of suspected neglect/inadequate supervision. The death was not reported to the hot line until Aug. 5. The Conway Police Department and the CACD are investigating. DHS has assessed the need for protection for the child's sibling.

Louis Wines, 18 months, died July 7 of trauma from suspected physical abuse. The CACD and the Magnolia Police Department are investigating.

Zachary R. Adkins, 2 months, of Ashley County died of suspected neglect July 18, 2003. His death was reported as suspicious until Aug. 7. The CACD is investigating.

An unidentified 2-year-old nearly died of drug ingestion July 6. DHS' Division of Child and Family Services is investigating.

Ten of the 29 cases reported in DHS' Child Fatality Review for 2009 were unrelated to abuse. The causes of death in the remaining 12 cases is unknown, but at least half were suspected instances of sudden infant death syndrome, DHS Deputy Director Janie Huddleston said. ?Gov. Mike Beebe ordered an overhaul in the agency last year, and DCFS has worked to restructure the way it works with children in the state's care or reported to the state. Cecile Blucker, DCFS director, also released the results of a outside contractor's review of DCFS cases that pointed out the agency's shortcomings, some of them due to lack of money.

The bottom line: Poor casework has resulted in the removal of children from homes in cases in which work with the family to keep the child at home would have been a better decision.?It made these points: DCFS' casework practices aren't consistent, case supervision is weak, families aren't sufficiently involved, documentation is poor and workloads are excessive. The state is making $9.3 million in one-time funding available to DCFS to accelerate its work to revamp its system of care, which means the agency will be able to add 113 people to the staff for casework, social services and clerical help and increase funding for “intensive family services.” The money derives from savings from lowered federal matching requirements and federal incentive rewards for increased adoption rates.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Say, it's sweet potato pie contest time again!

    An ingredient that shaped Little Rock's culture for years was Robert "Say" McIntosh's famous sweet potato pies. The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center pays homage to Say and his pies with its annual "Say It Ain't Say's" sweet potato pie baking contest, now in its fifth year.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Leg room soon at The Root Cafe

    People who love dining at The Root Cafe but shy away because of the crowds will be happy to learn that the new dining area likely will be open by the end of next week. Corri Bristow Sundell, who owns and operates the Root Cafe with her husband, Jack Sundell, said the restaurant is waiting on the city plumbing inspector for the second bathroom the restaurant was required to install when it added three shipping container units.
    • Oct 26, 2016
  • Cheese dip champs, highest hog roasters: Here are the winners

    The city's sages in the secrets of great cheese dip and whole hog roasting showed off last weekend, at the 6th annual World Cheese Dip Championship, held last Saturday, Oct. 22, at the River Market pavilions, and the 4th annual Arkansas Times Whole Hog Roast on Sunday, Oct. 23.
    • Oct 26, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Kanis development decried

    Fletcher Hollow wrong place for density, neighbors tell LR planners.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • Issue 3: blank check

    Who could object to a constitutional amendment "concerning job creation, job expansion and economic development," which is the condensed title for Issue 3 for Arkansas voters on Nov. 8?
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
  • Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

    Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.
  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

  • Trump country

    Even in deep red Arkansas, Trump could damage some down-ballot Republicans — but will boost others.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Youth movement

    Irvin Camacho, 24, hopes to be the first Latino elected to the Arkansas legislature.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Democrats' last stand in NE Arkansas

    Nate Looney vs. Rep. Brandt Smith for District 58.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation