After the tragic death of 2-year old October Perez in Great Falls, it is ever so apparent that we, the citizens of Montana, need to demand changes within the Department of Family Services.
The horrific abuse of this little girl was reported to DFS on numerous occasions, and this agency simply refused to do anything to protect this child. DFS personnel just replied by stating, “This case has been closed, due to unsubstantiated claims.”
This ineffectiveness of DFS, and their refusal to protect our most precious resource, our children, is not isolated to Great Falls. Since little October's Memorial Service and Rally Against Child Abuse which was held on July 3, there have been e-mails and phone calls concerning DFS every day, from all four corners of Montana.
Ironically, the mission statement of DFS is: “Keeping Children Safe and Families Strong,” and their purpose statement is: “To protect children who have been or are at substantial risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment.” I have a very difficult time believing this agency REALLY believes in these statements or even wants to carry out these goals when they consistently refused to do ANYTHING reports and photos were presented to them showing that both arms had been broken (report made by hospital personnel), chunks of hair had been pulled out of the girl's head, teeth had been knocked out, and numerous bruises throughout her body, as well as a letter from an attorney 20 days before October's death stating that if DFS chose to do nothing, the little girl would die!
Does DFS simply lack the ability to see blatant child abuse or do they conscientiously choose to turn a blind eye to the very children they are entrusted to protect? We, as moral citizens, have the responsibility to protect these children who have no voice within the bureaucracy, but they are victims to horrific crimes of abuse on a regular basis.
All of us must take action now! We must hold hearings throughout Montana so all of us citizens have an opportunity to voice our concerns about DFS's inability to adequately protect our children. We must demand that an oversight board be established so citizens can file complaints about DFS when they refuse to be responsive after numerous reports of blatant child abuse. If this board would have been in place, as recommended (in writing ) to DFS last fall, our two-year old October Perez may be alive today. However, since her death, our grassroots organization called “Montanans Against Child Abuse” has been formed. Currently, I am receiving e-mails and phone calls telling me about horrific child abuse occurring every day in Montana—and all of these instances have been reported to DFS, to no avail.