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IDAHO CHILD-WELFARE PROBE CALLED BIASED

A citizens panel looking into the January death of a 2-year-old Twin Falls girl is expected to release its findings this week, but some people already don't like the results.

The committee was formed last month to examine the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's handling of child welfare cases after the death of Amanda Marie Hostetler, who police say was beaten to death.But the panel, headed by Jerome County Sheriff Larry Gold, has too many connections to the department itself to be unbiased, Connie Misenhimer of Buhl said.

Misenhimer and Paulette Jackson are co-founders of "Friends of Amanda," a group that has been exploring ways to battle child abuse.

"They're not going to be unbiased," Misenhimer said. "They're not going to go against their own people."

Gold said the committee has been thorough in its investigation of Health and Welfare's involvement, which is believed to be the first examination of its kind of the agency's policies.

"We've been given access to just about everything we wanted," Gold said. "We are not finding anything that sticks out."

Of the 11 members of the committee, at least three have direct connections to Health and Welfare.

Kent Henderson is chief of the department's family services bureau in Boise, Cathy Jackson heads the local guardian program and Anita Henna is a recorder and administrative assistant for Health and Welfare.

Still, Paulette Jackson said, "We're not a bit happy with the people who are on that committee."

The panel is made up of "people who can look at the process objectively," Gold said.