Katie Couric's Notebook: Child Welfare

CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric.
A four-year-old Brooklyn girl named Marchella Brett-Pierce died of child abusein September - weighing just 18 pounds - her body covered in bruises.

Her mother was charged with murder and her grandmother with manslaughter, but the Brooklyn DA didn't stop there. He says the city knew Marchella might be at risk, but her case worker didn't make the home visits required - and falsified records after her death.

So, in an unprecedented move, the DA is prosecuting both the worker and his supervisor for criminally negligent homicide.

The head of the city's child welfare agency warns this could dissuade people from taking such jobs, which are already considered low-paid and difficult.

Both sides have a point. Case workers play a crucial life-or-death role and they should be recruited, trained and paid like the professionals they are.

But when they ignore facts and shirk their duties - the punishment should fit the crime.

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.