Wednesday, July 29, 2020

White House task force finds Indian Health Service needs big changes to better protect sexually abused children

"A White House task force called for broad changes at the U.S. Indian Health Service to protect children from abuse at the agency’s facilities, saying officials must redo earlier, insufficient attempts at fixes," Christopher Weaver reports for the PBS program "Frontline." "The task force was formed in spring 2019, after a joint investigation by The Wall Street Journal and "Frontline" revealed the agency had mishandled a pediatrician who sexually abused his patients on Native American reservations over the course of two decades."

The task force's report, released last week, confirmed many of the same conclusions and called for a wide range of changes to the agency that oversees health care for 2.6 million Native Americans. "It says the agency should reform the ways it recruits, vets and pays its medical providers. And it calls for the agency to replace child-protection policies and a staff training program it announced just last year in the wake of the Journal-Frontline reports," Weaver reports. The task force also "recommended the IHS standardize sex-abuse reporting policies across its entire network of hospitals and clinics, arrange yearly training conducted by federal law enforcement authorities on sex abuse for all employees, and centralize its efforts to screen new providers for problem backgrounds, an activity the IHS now allows local managers to conduct, among other things."

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