The Clarion-Ledger, 12/7/8

In the wake of the gruesome starvation death of a Scott County 4-year-old and an investigation into possibly another, attention has turned to the state agency charged with protecting children.

A hearing at the Capitol is scheduled Dec. 15 to determine the status of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Lawmakers want to learn more about the child-welfare agency’s workloads and staffing.

The hearing is prompted, in part, by four suspected abuse deaths in the last six months, including the Scott County case.

Austin James Watkins had been monitored by the state before going to live with his grandmother, Janice Mowdy, and aunt, Stephanie Bell. Both are jailed in the killing.