D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The May 4 death of 10-month-old Alyssa Kirk in D'Iberville has one state agency saying it could have done a better job of protecting the child.
The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services claims that autopsy results from the state medical examiner's office show the child died from malnutrition and dehydration caused by starvation.
Harrison County officials said the child died from natural causes.
Prior to Kirk's death, CPS workers conducted a welfare check at Kirk's home on April 17 after someone called with concern over the condition of the home and children inside it.
A few weeks later Kirk was found dead on May 4 at a D'Iberville apartment complex. Her father's body was found a short time later after he reportedly committed suicide.
Now the CPS said they could have done a better job.
"What happens next is everyone with CPS must ratchet it up, including myself. We are not going to take this lightly. We intend to learn from this, but there is no way we will get over the tragedy," said Dr. David Chandler, who is the commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services. "Everyone has to do a better job including myself. I'm extremely upset over what transpired. If it could have been avoided then we should have taken every precaution to make sure that child was safe. That's our job."
The Mississippi Child Protection Services investigates reports pertaining to children who maybe in jeopardy and if CPS employees conducting an investigation feel a child's safety is in jeopardy workers report that to the court system and the courts order that the child be removed and placed in CPS custody.
The agency also investigates child deaths, when there are any allegations or suspicion that abuse or neglect contributed to the death of a child.
"The agency and every employee should have a strong commitment to the safety of the children who we get involved with. In an event that any employee failed to adequately assess the child's situation or condition then appropriate action would be taken. But we aren't at liberty to comment on any particular situation," CPS Director of Special Investigations Tonya Rogillio said.
Regarding Kirk's death, Rogillio admits there were definitely things that could have been done better.
"We want to learn from this and do our very best to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Rogillio.
Child Protection Services has an office in every county in Mississippi. Rogillio says they receive thousands of reports a year.
"We get a lot of calls from teachers. And then just anyone else in the general public and medical professionals. A large number of our reports come from medical professionals children that present doctors with suspicious injuries," said Rogillio.
If you want to report abuse or neglect of a child or a suspicious death of a child you are asked to call Child Protection Services at 1-800-222-8000.