More transparency for kids sake

South Bend Tribune

It would be remiss of us not to praise the passage of a measure that redefines a child’s near death in deciding what records should be released to the public.

We’ve pushed for more openness at the Department of Child Services. Such transparency is desperately needed, not as a finger-pointing exercise but to help make sure that all of us do a better job of keeping kids safe.

The calls for more transparency and a focus on the near deaths of children are taking place on a national level. According to the chairman of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, new research suggests that studying near-fatal events of child abuse may be important because “near fatalities are similar to fatalities in almost every way we can measure them.”

Senate Bill 131, introduced by state Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, is a step toward more openness when Indiana children are seriously injured.

While Indiana law has long stipulated that DCS records should be made public in the death or near death of a children, it didn’t say what a “near fatality” is — meaning that those records were in practice never released.