Fix problem in child protection

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The death of a Natchez 4-year-old and the serious injuries inflicted on her 3-year-old sister last week from apparent abuse is reprehensible.

Apparently, people in the community had noticed injuries to the children and had notified Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services of the suspected abuse not once but twice.

MDCPS launched an investigation into the allegations, but for whatever reason, in-home observations and reports from January until May failed to turn up any evidence of child abuse and the agency closed the report just one day before Armani Hill, 4, died of blunt trauma injuries and her sister was seriously injured as well.

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MDCPS issued a press statement expressing sorrow at the loss and explaining why the case was closed.

“At no time during that monitoring period did any safety concerns arise or were any new concerns of child abuse or harm noted,” MDCPS said in the statement issued to media last week. “The in-home case involving the family was closed on June 4 after MDCPS staff met with both of the children, the mother and the grandmother.”

Obviously, the system failed.

Shortly after Hill was pronounced dead at Merit Health Natchez and her younger sister was transported to a Jackson hospital with serious injuries, the Natchez Police Department took the children’s mother and her boyfriend into custody, launched an investigation and made arrests quickly. The Natchez Police Department has in recent months made a series of quick arrests in cases, including shootings and robberies.

That is good news, and we commend the police force for their swift action to get criminals off the streets in recent months.

Unfortunately, the swift police work was too late to save Armani Hill but perhaps it will help bring her abusers to justice.

In the meantime, MDCPS must examine its workings to determine how its investigations failed these children.

We do not want to see another case such as this fail another child.