Dane County's Child Protective Services manager said she has confidence in the work of her staff despite questions about the department's involvement following the death of a 5-year-old of alleged child abuse.
Neither Dane County nor the state will confirm whether CPS was involved with the family before the death, despite family telling WISC-TV it was.
Dane County CPS Manager Julie Ahnen said she can't comment on whether her department was involved with the family of 5-year-old Brayden Turnbill before he was removed from his Sun Prairie home and subsequently died from injuries suspected of being related to child abuse.
The state Department of Children and Families, although it has released some details in other cases, won't release any record of involvement, either. But Ahnen said that's no reason for the public to lose confidence in her department.
"The confidentiality laws do not prevent us from doing our job," said Ahnen. "I'm very confident that my staff are working very well with law enforcement and medical personnel to do what they need to do."
Ahnen said her staff takes action to remove 20 to 30 children a month from homes where there is evidence of abuse or neglect, but confidentiality laws prevent them from sharing details about their work.
"I think it's very natural for people to try to understand why something like this would happen and why somebody might not have intervened," said Ahnen about the Turnbill death. "But it's difficult to find those answers all the time. There's not always a clear answer or reason as to why something tragic like this has happened."
WISC-TV asked whether people should be looking to her department for any blame in the situation.
"I think it's difficult to look for blame anywhere in these situations," Ahnen said.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said he has confidence in the work of the department, which thoroughly investigates thousands of cases each year, and that the review underway will examine how the department conducted this matter. Parisi noted the department has 76 CPS workers -- the largest CPS unit in the state -- with nearly $13 million dedicated to the cause.
The state, once again Wednesday, declined WISC-TV's request for information on any CPS involvement in any county with the Turnbill case.
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