DHS worker firing raises more questions about maltreatment reporting 

Division of Children and Family Services head knew about abuse allegations, but did not report, according to sources.

Two children whose mother was an employee in the Division of Children and Family Services of the state Department of Human Services were ordered removed from her custody last year by a judge who found the children were in "imminent danger" at her home.

The employee, Chanel Moore, who is required by law to report child maltreatment to the state's abuse hotline, apparently did not inform DHS that her husband had done anything to harm the children. It was the boys' grandfather who first called the abuse hotline to report that the older boy had cuts, bruises and scars on his back. Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce awarded custody to the grandfather, George Turner II, after Turner initiated court proceedings in November 2013.

After the grandfather called the maltreatment hotline in spring of 2013 and during the custody proceedings that followed, Chanel Moore continued to work at DHS. At some point after his hotline call, Turner said, a caseworker visited Chanel Moore's home in response to his report, but did not remove the children.

A trusted source says that not only did Moore not make a maltreatment report, DCFS Director Cecile Blucker also knew about the abuse allegations and did not report them.

The case is of particular interest because state Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) also said that Blucker was aware he had rehomed his children before a maltreatment report of abandonment was made to the hotline.

Judge Pierce ordered DHS to turn over its files on the allegations made against the boys' stepfather, Brandon M. Moore, last April. Chanel Moore was fired in July. In his final custody order in August 2014, Pierce wrote that DHS had made "true findings" of abuse by Brandon Moore and neglect by Chanel Moore. Asked for the reason for her termination, DHS would only disclose that she was fired for violating agency policy.

Turner, of Conway, originally called the state child maltreatment hotline in spring 2013 after learning that the child's stepfather, Brandon Moore, had "whooped him with a belt." During a visit to his grandfather, the younger boy told Turner, " 'You should look at [his brother's] back, he has scars on his back," Turner told the Times. Turner said a caseworker visited Chanel Moore's home in response to his report, but left the sons in the home. In an affidavit filed in January 2014 in Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce's court, Turner said, "I believe there was a true finding of physical abuse against Mr. Brandon Moore, the stepfather, because I was subpoenaed to testify and did testify before the Appeal Tribunal of the Department of Human Services on Nov. 18, 2013."

According to Turner, the judge said he did not understand why DHS did not follow protocol and remove the boys from the home after the home visit. He said that Pierce, after meeting with the boys in chambers, expressed displeasure in open court with DHS and said he was turning the documents from the agency over to criminal investigators. The Times has a call in to Judge Pierce for comment.

Brandon Moore, 30, was arrested Nov. 14, 2014, on a charge of 2nd degree battery and ordered not to have any contact with Chanel Moore's oldest son. A jury trial was set for June 9 of this year.

But why did DHS evidently not take action against Moore on its own, considering Turner's original call to the child maltreatment hotline occurred many months prior to the court's involvement?

Turner said he believes the abuse was known to Moore's boss, Cecile Blucker, the head of DCFS, prior to Judge Pierce's involvement. An anonymous source corroborated this account. Like Moore and other DCFS employees, Blucker is a mandated reporter

DHS spokesperson Amy Webb said that if allegations of maltreatment rise to the level that requires reporting, Blucker reports it. Moore's termination letter, provided to the Times under the state Freedom of Information Act, redacted the reason for her firing. Asked why the termination reason was redacted, DHS spokesperson Kate Luck said the agency was "bound by very specific confidentiality laws that prevent us from making certain information public." She said DHS cannot even reveal which statute, exactly, required the redaction in the first place.

REDACTED: The reason Moore was fired in her termination letter image
  • REDACTED: The reason Moore was fired in her termination letter.

"I understand that it's frustrating; it can be frustrating for us too," Luck said in an email. "We want to, and strive to be, as open as we can be. But there are times, like this one, when our hands are tied. We have our top attorneys review the information we release under the FOIA and in this instance, there are other confidentiality laws at play that take precedence over the FOIA. To cite those laws would be revealing the confidential nature of the information. [Our emphasis.]

"[W]e are in the process of seeking an Attorney General's opinion on this issue and will abide by whatever that opinion says. However, at this time our attorneys feel the information released was the most we could provide and still be within the law."

The allegations made against Brandon Moore, that Chanel Moore and Brandon Moore were living together when the alleged abuse occurred and that Moore lost custody are already known. The names of the minors involved are also known; they are in the court records of the custody action.

All that is not known is whether Chanel Moore was fired for not reporting a suspicion of maltreatment, as she was required to. Is that protected by confidentiality laws so confidential we can't know what the laws are?

Moore's is not the only case in which alleged abuse occurred in a DHS worker's home. In July 2008, the aunt of a 2-year-old drove her nephew to a DHS office to show caseworkers the bruises on his buttocks and back. She'd found the marks while she was taking care of the toddler. A DHS worker on duty took photos of the boy, but told Amanda Allen, the aunt, to return the child to his mother. The mother and father of the child were living with the child's grandmother, a DHS employee.

A month later, the boy was in Arkansas Children's Hospital with a fractured skull, detached gallbladder, internal bleeding and bruises all over his body. The employee resigned that month, DHS said at the time.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

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

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward

    No state political party in the modern era has had a more abrupt fall than Arkansas's Democrats
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »


  1 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

  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Vive la resistance!

    House Minority Leader Michael John Gray wants to chair the Democratic Party of Arkansas. His plan to lead the party back to relevance: Start listening to Arkansas again.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • We are not asking you to place a stent in the Democrats Heart nor to…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • Finally! A young person who is truly interested in listening to the working people of…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • Isn't Asa Hutchinson up for re-election 2018?????? Maybe Donald will offer Asa a job in…

    • on December 4, 2016

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