DCF Closed Bella Bond’s Abuse Cases Prematurely, Report Finds

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

DCF Closed Bella Bond’s Abuse Cases Prematurely, Report Finds.

BOSTON — A report says Massachusetts’ child protection agency didn’t do enough to protect a toddler known for months as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on a Boston Harbor beach. BOSTON (CBS) – The decision to close two reports of abuse and neglect in the Bella Bond case was “premature,” according to a report released Wednesday.Nicole Doyle, like many others across New England, was deeply moved by the story of Bella Bond, the little girl whose body was found on the shore of Deer Island in June. The Office of the Child Advocate says in the report issued Wednesday that two allegations that Bella Bond was being neglected and abused in 2012 and 2013 should have warranted a higher response level by the Department of Children and Families. When the Quincy mother of two happened to drive past Bella’s Dorchester home one day and a saw a mountain of stuffed animals left as a memorial, it sparked an idea.

There was conflicting information about the ability to be a good parent, which should have triggered higher level conferences within DCF, and further checking with all known collateral contacts,” the group found. The state’s new child advocate, Maria Mossaiders, who was sworn in earlier this month and replaced the office’s long-time director, Gail Garinger, released her findings this afternoon, a month after Gov. In addition, the agency did not thoroughly evaluate Bond’s fitness as a parent, did not gather sufficient information from other agencies that were involved with her, and gathered minimal, if any, family and personal information from Bond.

Bond’s current and prior functioning, parenting, substance abuse and lifestyle choices, or her ability to demonstrate insight and ability for change,” the report found. Officials have said they closed the case and had no contact with Rachelle Bond since — but they had yet to detail why they launched the cases or what prompted them to close them.

The report on DCF’s involvement with the case is just the latest to expose major problems with the agency, which has been under fire following the deaths of several children under its watch over the last two years. “The report is not intended to place blame, but rather to gather and synthesize information from multiple sources,” Maria Z. Mossaides. “These issues are being addressed by initiatives currently underway, including rebuilding DCF’s management structure, quality assurance processes, and policies to provide clear guidance and oversight to staff in assessing risk to children and monitoring families.” The group also called for better information sharing between agencies so services being provided to families can be more directly tracked by DCF staff. Doyle said she thought to herself, “What would my kids need for the first 24 hours?” and put together a wish list for foster kids age 2 to 11, though donations for all ages are welcome. Bond’s own statements.” DCF, however, may have had a “false sense of security” that the girl would be safe because Bond was living at the time in a shelter and was under the supervision of a probation officer. Rachelle Bond, 40, has been charged as an accessory after the fact in her death, and Bond’ boyfriend, 35-year-old Michael McCarthy, has been charged with murder.

The report is available at www.mass.gov/childadvocate/ On September 28, Governor Baker asked the OCA to conduct an independent review of the case of two-year-old Bella and her family during her short life. Therefore, the OCA examined the role of DCF when it was involved, as well as of other public agencies and community service providers from whom the family received professional services or financial support, to determine if opportunities were missed to raise concerns about the safety and well-being of Bella.

Instead, the evaluation that led the department to close her case “contained cut-and-pasted information from prior years and was inaccurate,” according to the report. Making that step standard was part of a set of initiatives Baker unveiled last month. “We should be incorporating all of the information all the way back … when we make decision about what happens going forward,” Baker said today, reiterating that it was “not standard operating procedure previously.”

While DCF is not affiliated with Doyle’s group, the agency is grateful for all public donations it receives throughout the year, said spokesperson Andrea Grossman. The OCA will work closely with the Secretary of Health and Human Services over the next year on developing ways to electronically share information safely to better protect the children it serves.

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