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Attorney For Families Of Slain Toddlers Says Child Advocate Report Doesn't Go Far Enough

Department of Human Health and Services

An attorney representing the families of two children in litigation against DCYF says a new report from the Office of the Child Advocate doesn't go far enough.

Rus Rilee represents the families of Brielle Gage and Sadee Willott, two toddlers who were killed by abusive mothers in separate incidents in 2014 and 2015. In both cases, abuse had been reported to the state's Division for Children Youth and Families.

Public outrage following those deaths helped lead to the creation of the new Office of Child Advocate, which now acts as an independent overseer for DCYF.

The OCA just released its first annual report Monday, which called for the legislature to fund 104 more caseworker positions at DCYF and an additional 15 nurses, among a host of other recommendations. Rilee says its a step in the right direction, but he's disappointed it doesn't include more from the families of victims.

"No one has ever reached out to me or my clients to ask them what they think could help to be done to prevent these types of tragedies in the future," said Rilee. "And I know that my clients have a lot to say about that."

Rilee also said he thinks the report emphasizes the wrong part of the division.

"It seems to me that the focus is on kind of the ground-level workers in the system. Where I think the problem really lies with the supervisors," said Rilee. "I don't think the supervisors are properly trained and I don't think the supervisors are doing their job."

Two separate lawsuits involving the deaths of the toddlers are still pending in Hillsboro County Superior Court.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.
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