Governor orders child agency reforms after 'Baby Doe' case | us news

Governor orders child agency reforms after ‘Baby Doe’ case

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Baby Doe’s’ father no longer believes mother’s story.

BOSTON – Gov. A vigil was held Friday night on Deer Island in honor of Bella Bond, formerly known as Baby Doe, where the child’s biological father says he’s changed his mind about what he believes happened to his daughter.

BOSTON (WWLP)– Saying that reducing caseloads and setting clear policies for child supervision and case management are top priorities, Governor Charlie Baker announced a series of reforms for the state Department of Children and Families Monday morning. Charlie Baker finds himself again thrust into the sad — and sadly familiar — position of responding to the death or mistreatment of a child at one point under the supervision of the state.

The Republican said new steps will include reducing social worker caseloads and updating the way the agency evaluates and prioritizes reports of abuse and neglect. The governor said the agency will be updating its 12-year-old intake policy, which will involve CORI checks in all DCF cases, reviewing 911 calls made from DCF homes and assessing parental capacity. Governor Karyn Polito, DCF Commissioner Linda Spears, and the president of SEIU Local 509 Union Peter MacKinnon made the announcement of the reforms at the State House. Baker also wants to reduce caseloads, increase the number of foster homes and examine all complex cases in the department. “The work that will be done from this point forward will focus on one major objective: To keep kids safe,” Baker said. “We need to get it right.” The DCF Central Massachusetts Regional Office, which was eliminated six years ago due to budget cutbacks, will also be reestablished.

A week ago a tip cracked open the case and police identified the girl as Bella Bond and arrested her mother, Rachelle Bond and her mother’s boyfriend, Michael McCarthy. A new supervisor policy will go into effect in November, and that will “include detailed, mandated steps for case review and management support necessary to working with all families,” Baker’s office said. Earlier this summer it was the case of Jack Loiselle, a 7-year-old Hardwick boy who police say was beaten and starved by his father before falling into a coma. He certainly should have picked up the phone and done something earlier,” Conley said. “But from a criminal responsibility point of view, there aren’t statutes that would be applicable here.”

The changes that are planned deal not only with reducing caseloads, but also taking a closer look at criminal the and police history of those involved in cases. Hundreds attended the candlelight vigil and most brought a 6-inch by 6-inch piece of fabric with a personal message for Bella in order to create a blessing blanket. Patricia Quinn, the mother of Bella’s biological father, told us she was only able to spend a few months with Bella before her mother would no longer come around and now she wishes she could have done more. “I wish we were able to take her before all this happened.

All three echo the 2013 case of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy whose remains were found alongside a highway after social workers lost track of him. As a candidate for governor last year, Baker cited the Oliver case in calling for the resignation of then-DCF Commissioner Olga Roche, appointed by former Gov. The easy thing to do would be to fire somebody over that,” Baker told reporters after the release of the report criticizing DCF’s handling of 7-year-old Jack. “The hard thing to do is to fix the policy and then to hold people accountable.” Much of that responsibility will fall on Linda Spears, Baker’s choice to lead DFC.

While the group said DCF shouldn’t be held responsible for Jeremiah’s death, it did point to staffing problems and inconsistent handling of cases due to out-of-date policies at the agency that Spears now leads. Three DCF employees were eventually fired and a fourth disciplined. “One of the great problems we have here and it comes up in every single one of these stories is inconsistent or misunderstood application of whatever the rules or the practice standards that exist,” Baker said this week. “In many cases they don’t exist at all.” “We are going to move fast, but the most important thing I want everyone to understand is that we are going to move thoroughly,” Baker added. “People are going to understand what’s expected of them and how we plan to support them.”

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