Governor Tom Vilsack says he’s completed his review of what he terms the “sad situation in Winterset involving a 10-year-old girl.” Last month, police removed the girl from her home after finding her malnourished and locked in a room that had no furniture or carpeting. A couple of years ago, after a Spirit Lake toddler died of abuse despite reports of that abuse to state social workers, the Iowa legislature rewrote Iowa law, allowing a few state legislators and the governor to review Department of Human Services documents on child abuse cases. In a prepared statement, Vilsack says “it appears to (him) that D-H-S followed-up every claim and inquiry that was brought to them” about the plight of the 10-year-old Winterset girl. Vilsack says state social workers “suggested referrals to appropriate school and medical professionals” and “ultimately,” let police know of the girl’s plight.During a news conference on February 24th, Vilsack talked about the state’s obligation to protect kids. Vilsack says the state is “by no means perfect” and has “a long way to go” in its efforts to ensure the safety of children. The girl’s father, 39-year-old Jon Neely, and his girlfriend, Kimberly Holtmyer, are charged with child endangerment. The girl’s mother, who is living in Germany, is trying to get custody of her daughter.
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