The state Ombudsman has issued a report critical of the Department of Human Services for its handling of the Shelby Duis case. Duis, a toddler from Spirit Lake, died of child abuse last January. The Ombudsman said two DHS employees mishandled the case.
Ombudsman William Angrick says the two worked out of the Clay County DHS office, which serves the Spirit Lake area. Social workers Charles Illig and Kerrie Morey were singled out by the Ombudsman. Morey was criticized for inaction on December 12th of last year.In general, Angrick says the workers missed a number of chances to step in and get Shelby Duis out of the home.
But, Angrick says he does not draw any conclusions as to whether the investigators could’ve prevented the abuse that ended Duis’ life.D-H-S director Jesse Rasmussen spoke to reporters this morning.Rasmussen told reporters child protection is the agency’s number one priority, and the hardest thing they have to do.
The Ombudsman said two child protection workers didn’t follow all the right procedures in the Duis case. Rasmussen says one of the employees no longer works for the DHS and the other has been transferred out of child protective services. She says it is clear from the report that not everything was done right by her department.But Rasmussen maintains there’s no guarantee Duis would be alive today had DHS workers stepped in when reports of abuse were made. The Ombudsman made 23 recommendations for change in the state’s child protection system.
Rasmussen says five of those changes have already been made, and plans have been laid to make all but two of the rest.