Governor Tom Vilsack has reviewed allegations the state received that Evelyn Miller was abused and neglected, and the governor says he found no evidence to suggest she was in danger. “I looked at every document that was given to me and read every document fully and completely,” Vilsack says. “I did not find anything that suggested or indicated to me that this child was at risk to be abducted or harmed in any way.” Vilsack reviewed files kept in the Department of Human Services, the agency that fielded complaints about the girl’s living conditions and which sent social workers to investigate those complaints. The complaints covered a four-year-period, according to the governor. The girl died at the age of five. Vilsack says the Department of Human Services treated every complaint it received “seriously” and acted in a “timely manner” on each reported incident. “I didn’t find any evidence in the file that would suggest (state social workers) should have taken any action that they didn’t take,” Vilsack says. “When contacts were made, they fully…and very quickly responded…Some of the tips were anonymous. Some of them were, you know, the kind that you might not take seriously, but (state social workers) did take them seriously and they looked into it.” Vilsack says he spent much of yesterday morning reviewing the file. “I got a renewed sense that it’s really important for each one of us as parents who happen to be fortunate enough to have children to keep a watchful eye on our children and make sure we know what they’re doing,” Vilsack says. “You know, it’s very difficult to accurately predict when evil’s going to occur.” Vilsack says one reason he reviewed the case files was to see if the Department of Human Services had “gotten the message” and changed its course after some high-profile child abuse deaths in the state, and the governor believes the department acted appropriately in this case. “Evelyn’s tragic death has touched all of us and as the investigation continues, there are obviously a lot of questions that all of us would like to have answers to — most specifically who is responsible and when will they be held accountable,” Vilsack says. Vilsack declined to talk specifically about the allegations he reviewed in the Evelyn Miller case file, but he did reveal that the file showed Evelyn’s mother met with state social workers and agreed to participate in a parenting class when she was 17, shortly after giving birth to Evelyn.
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