- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - Neighbors of an 8-year-old Kalispell-area girl who died in a motor home fire say the Flathead County sheriff’s office and child protective services didn’t act on numerous reports alleging drug use and child neglect in the months before the fire.

Child protection advocate Cheryl Hodges said Thursday that she along with about a dozen neighbors who said they made complaints plan to meet with the county prosecutor on Tuesday. Hodges said they would like to see the Division of Child and Family Services held accountable for its inaction prior to the Oct. 1 death of Autumn Hawk.

Hodges has been calling for reform within the Division of Child and Family Services since the 2010 deaths of her grandchildren, Darby Hodges and Kiera Pulaski. She reported suspicions that the children were being abused, but they were left in the home. No one has been charged in their deaths.

“The agency that’s supposed to protect our kids is hurting our kids,” Hodges said.

Hodges also protested outside the Kalispell Division of Child and Family Services office last month along with other grandparents who are lobbying for change within the agency.

Members of the neighbors’ group declined to comment on how many complaints they made and to whom before they share the information with the county attorney.

Jon Ebelt, spokesman for the Department of Public Health and Human Services, declined to comment to the Daily Inter Lake, citing confidentiality laws.

Undersheriff Dave Leib said Wednesday the investigation into the fire and Autumn’s death continues.

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