State officials are hiring “an outside expert” to examine the Iowa Department of Human Services after a second central Iowa teenager is found dead in a home which had been flagged over child welfare concerns.
Sixteen-year-old Sabrina Ray was found dead in her home in Perry last Friday. The Des Moines Register reports she was adopted and the state had investigated at least two complaints of improper punishment and inadequate food at the day care the girl’s parents ran out of the home. Last fall, a 16-year-old adopted girl starved to death in her West Des Moines home. Neighbors and school officials had reported the girl was malnourished.
The public information officer at the Department of Human Services issued a written statement today, saying the agency will be taking “a comprehensive review of our child welfare system.” The department’s Amy McCoy also sought to “assure the public” that the DHS is committed to protecting vulnerable children. McCoy also expressed “deep sadness” and said the DHS staff had “heavy hearts” over the Perry teenager’s death.
Last month the Government Oversight Committee in the Iowa House announced it planned to investigate the child welfare system, but Republicans on the same committee in the Iowa Senate were reluctant to join in. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, today said he was nauseated when he learned another teenager had “fallen through the cracks.” Earlier this year, McCoy convened a few hearings at the statehouse to try to quiz state officials about the starvation death of Natalia Finn of West Des Moines.