The Death of Marchella Pierce: Collaboration, Conflict and Accountability in Child Protective Services

 By Eric Hepler, Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau and Donald Moynihan, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University


This case describes the death of young child who was under the supervision of child protective services, as well as a non-profit contractor. In doing so, it examines a collaborative relationship that went awry in a number of ways: the maintenance of a contract despite a poor track record by the contractor, inadequate communication between the non-profit and city officials, a poor transition of responsibilities between the two, and blaming and counter-blaming after the tragedy occurred. Two social workers were ultimately prosecuted for their role in the case.

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