Ed: As the curtain is gradually pulled back on the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, a tableau is revealed that contains mixed images.

The Tennessean and other news organizations around the state are examining 42 DCS files released under court order last week. Among them, there are cases of children’s deaths or near-deaths that are thoroughly documented; others have no documentation until months after the events in question. Some cases saw involvement of multiple investigators and caseworkers; others appeared to have received scant attention while being juggled by lone, overwhelmed caseworkers.

A common thread, however, is the failure to keep records up to date — and while in the average business or government office that failure results primarily in waste and inefficiency, in Children’s Services the results are that someone’s life may be in greater danger, and the ability to bring the perpetrator to justice is irreparably damaged.

Read more: The Tennessean, May 15 2013

See also: DCS records for eight children who died aren’t available

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