The Iowa Department of Human Services today released a packet of information on the investigation leading up to the death of two-year old Shelby Duis. The information details several reports of alleged abuse against the Spirit Lake girl prior to her death. D-H-S Director Jesse Rassmussen spoke with reporters and defended the Department’s decision to not remove Duis from her mother’s home. Rassmussen says the information shows Duis couldn’t have been removed from the custody of her mother, Heidi Watkins. Rassmussen says the information also shows the need for better training and more staff. She says the department needs at least six to seven million more dollars to hire the staff to adequately cover the state. She says their caseloads are two to three times higher than the national standard. Rassmussen says that doesn’t give them the time to do an adequate job.The D-H-S has blacked out portions of the information released to reporters — including disciplinary action taken against employees involved in the case. Rassmussen says this is done to comply with state law under the personnel code. Rassmussen would not even say how many employees had been disciplined. While she says the state needs more funds and training, Rassmussen doesn’t think there needs to be changes in legislation to protect children. She says she believes the child abuse statutes in Iowa are very strong, but the department needs more resources to enforce them.The State Ombudsman is doing a review of the case and Rassmussen says that review may reveal more information than she is allowed to release. She says it could be a couple of months before that review is released. Duis’ mother Heidi Watkins was found not guilty of murdering the girl, but was found guilty of neglect. Watkins will be sentenced in November.
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