Massachusetts governor: New protocols needed to protect kids

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Baker Says Work Continues To Improve DCF Protocols.

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. BOSTON (CBS) – I wanted to wait until after Monday’s arraignment to say anything about the horrific case of Bella Bond, the little girl allegedly beaten to death by her mother’s boyfriend, then tossed into the harbor by mom and her beau. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that the state must update the way it handles investigations into allegations of abuse or neglect of children if it hopes to avoid more cases like the death of 2-year-old Bella Bond, whose body was found on a Boston-area beach in June. Baker told reporters that one of his top priorities is revamping the intake policy for the Department of Children and Families, which he said hasn’t been updated in a decade.

Some people already want to turn this into another indictment of the beleaguered state agency that oversees at-risk kids, because they briefly had Bella on their radar. House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Tuesday suggested the DCF be elevated to cabinet-level, to reduce the level of bureaucracy between the governor and the agency. “Any time you’re talking to a secretariat, which is getting the information to the governor, usually it will get a whole lot more attention than it would if it has to go through various levels,” DeLeo said. “I’m at the point, quite frankly, where we’ve got to do something and status quo is unacceptable.” Deleo says he is considering adding a provision to a supplemental budget that would require the administration to report to the Legislature “every major change they have made to their policy since the last time that we had this discussion.” “I want DCF to understand all the way to the ground, every single employee of the agency, what it is we’re trying to accomplish, how it is we’re trying to accomplish it, how we as an administration plan to support that, and then how we’re going to measure how we’re doing in following through on it,” Baker said. “These cases, these kids, as a parent, break my heart,” Baker said haltingly. “I don’t want this to be the sort of thing where everyone runs around at 30,000 feet and proposes this and proposes that, and the whole thing turns into 40, 50, 60, 80 recommendations that get lost in the operation of an agency that has thousands of employees and tens of thousands of people that it’s supposed to be working with and supporting.” DeLeo said the once-nameless girl touched people across the country who saw a dark-eyed, chubby-cheeked drawing circulated by police trying to identify her. What’s appalling is the way the ready availability of cheap, potent drugs and the lack of resources to treat addiction is accelerating the nightmare for too many kids.

DCF had also taken away Rachelle Bond’s two older children; one is with the maternal grandmother and the other was adopted by another family, officials have said. He said Bella’s death exposed what he called “broader failures within the system.” DeLeo said Monday that he wants DCF to give House lawmakers details on actions they’ve taken since the 2013 case of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who went missing from his home after social workers lost track of him and whose remains were later found alongside a state highway. Linda Carlisle, the state’s acting child advocate, said her office has two “triggers” in launching probes: When a child in an open DCF case dies or if a death comes less than six months after a case closes.

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