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Postby Marina » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:52 am

http://www.news-leader.com/article/2008 ... 324/-1/RSS

Reform comes from tragedy
Division reaches milestone years after Dominic James' death.
December 4, 2008

It's been six years since a 2-year-old Greene County boy was shaken to death by his foster father in Greene County.

The 2002 death of little Dominic James spurred cries of outrage about the state's foster care system for kids, elicited promises from officials that the state Department of Social Services would reform its Children's Division, triggered resignations and caused the governor to create the Missouri Task Force on Children's Justice.

Because the News-Leader investigated whether Dominic's death could have been prevented, his name has appeared in this newspaper often.

The little boy's name has become tragically synonymous with missteps and neglect. Today, we return his name to our pages for a brighter reason -- as the Children's Division celebrates a milestone. The Greene County circuit of the division this week announced accreditation by an outside council that reviews policies, procedures and overall operations of agencies responsible for child protection, adoption, foster care and kinship care.

It means the local office responsible for caring for children on many fronts has been dissected, analyzed and found to be sound by national experts in the field.

The accreditation was one of several legislative mandates that followed publicity of Dominic's death, which brought attention to the foster care problem not only in Greene County but statewide. As of this month, 30 of the state's 45 circuits are now accredited.

Appearing in Springfield on Monday, the director of the Department of Social Services, Deborah E. Scott, said: "Being accredited certainly doesn't mean that we're perfect, but it does mean that we have taken seriously our commitment to protect children and looked at how we're doing that work and how we can improve that work."

We like the dose of humility evident in that statement, as well as its promise of continued introspection. The reform mandated from lawmakers in 2004 came in an act named for young Dominic James.

It's a name that lives on. For today, at least, it is tied to success instead of failure.

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