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DCYF drags its feet: 'Patently unreasonable'

August 07. 2017 11:23PM

Despite a court order, the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) continues to drag its feet in releasing information to the grandparents of two juvenile abuse victims.

The grandparents, who have since adopted the two children, are suing the state on behalf of their grandchildren, arguing that caseworkers disregarded both the grandparents and police reports, leaving the children vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse from their biological parents.

Since the children were just 4 and 18 months at the time of the abuse, the state must protect their identities. But it is perverse to argue that their confidentiality needs to be protected from their grandparents, now their legal guardians.

Judge Gillian Abramson has repeatedly admonished the state for failing to turn over files to the plaintiffs. But DCYF officials claim the earlier orders are unclear, so they again delayed sharing the files. Abramson last week called the state’s objection “patently unreasonable.”

In April, she found that the state was “motivated purely by their own self-interest in minimizing public exposure of their alleged errors.”

Abramson has ordered the state to provide her with the documents, and she will decide if any of them should be withheld. The state is also contesting the grandparents’ ability to share details with the public.

The law protects the confidentiality of the child victims. It is not meant to protect state officials. The grandparents are hoping to not only find out how the state failed their grandchildren, but shed public light on the situation. It should be up to the family, and not the state, to determine if confidentiality should be waived.

The state must abandon this cynical legal strategy.

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