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

Eric Hepler (Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau) & Donald Moynihan (Georgetown University)

July 2019


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.

400 Eggers Hall