Sunday, March 23, 2014

Can't Find DCF Draft

I don't know where it could be.

"Report urges smaller caseloads, closer scrutiny at DCF" by Todd Wallack | Globe staff, March 13, 2014

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families needs to reduce social workers’ caseloads, upgrade its technology, and make other changes to adequately supervise the 36,000 children under its supervision, according to an initial assessment by the Child Welfare League of America.

The advocacy group, hired by the Patrick administration in January to review the department’s operations after the disappearance of a 5-year-old boy, also recommended increased monitoring of foster parents with criminal records, more action to find children who have run away from foster families, and quicker medical screenings for children entering foster care.

“The safety and security of children, especially those entrusted to the supervision or care of the state child welfare agency, are of vital concern to the citizens of the Commonwealth,” the interim report says....

The report did not grade the DCF’s overall management and said it would be wise to keep the current leadership intact while the group finishes the review. Governor Deval Patrick has stood by DCF Commissioner Olga Roche, even as dozens of lawmakers and GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker have called for her resignation....

The legacy isn't looking so good -- despite the miracles.

Some of the recommendations in the report mirror a push by the Patrick administration and union representatives for increased funding from the Legislature to hire more caseworkers and upgrade DCF’s technology to keep better tabs on children.

What, after cutting it all these years?

Union leaders have complained that workers have sky-high caseloads, making it difficult to track children....

DCF also disclosed for the first time that it is falling short of its own policy....

The Massachusetts agency ranks far worse than most states in a number of statistics compiled by the federal government on child welfare, including the number of foster children who are visited monthly by case workers.

Last month, the Globe reported that there are many children under DCF supervision who are missing on any given day....

The agency has also come under fire for granting waivers for foster parents with criminal records, including more than 500 last year alone. The Patrick administration said the vast majority were for people who were convicted of minor crimes more than a decade ago and wanted to take in relatives....

That's "addressing how the agency can “change the culture” to prevent future tragedies."


Found this:

"Hundreds may be missing in child welfare system" by Todd Wallack |  Globe staff, February 27, 2014

On any given day, hundreds of children in the Massachusetts welfare system may be missing, mostly teenagers listed as “on the run.”


The state does not track the number of missing children in another potentially large group: those whose families are already under state supervision because their parents face allegations of abuse and neglect.

Yet Olga Roche, head of DCF, told lawmakers at a hearing last month that she was certain there were no other children in her agency’s care who were in danger or were missing....

Must we insulting lies on top of injurious incompetence?

“Can you give me and the other 6 million people of the Commonwealth the assurance that you know that every single one of those 36,000 children in your care today are present, alive, and healthy?” asked state Representative David P. Linsky, chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight. “Can you give me that assurance that there are no other Jeremiah Olivers out there today?”

“Yes,” Roche said firmly. Asked whether she was “100 percent confident,” Roche said yes again.

State officials later defended Roche’s assertion. “The line of questioning that the commissioner was responding to was whether there were any other ‘Jeremiah Olivers out there,’ ” said DCF spokesman Alec Loftus. “She was not responding to a question about teenagers on the run.”

This semantic parsing and hair-splitting is most unbecoming.

Patrick administration officials say they are not sure exactly how many children under state supervision are currently missing because they do not keep data on every type of missing child, including runaways from DCF-supervised families where the state does not have custody of the child.


Spying on all of us but.... don't know where are the children!!

The administration also declined to release the names of children known to be missing because of “confidentiality policies.”

However, state officials confirmed that there is at least one other state-supervised child who went missing under circumstances just as disturbing as the disappearance of Jeremiah Oliver, who was gone for months before anyone reported him missing.


3 charged with misleading police in search for boy
More charges come in case of missing Fitchburg child Jeremiah Oliver
Mother, boyfriend face new charges in missing Fitchburg boy case

Marlon Devine Santos, a 5-month-old from Worcester, disappeared from his foster home in 1998 and has never been found. His foster father, who already had a criminal record, was later convicted of abusing other foster children. Police still list Marlon as missing.

Will they ever find either kid?

Loftus said the state is working hard to upgrade the agency’s technology to better supervise children in the system in future, including providing computer tablets to social workers to improve real-time reporting.

Patrolling the Beat With the BPD

“There are many things in our system we wish we had the ability to track more comprehensively,” Loftus said.


He went on to say that he thought it “inaccurate to characterize children who have run away as ‘missing,’ ” even though the agency doesn’t know where they are and typically files missing persons reports on suspected runaways.

“These are, oftentimes, teenagers who are facing difficult times in their lives and run away to stay with a friend for a period of time,” Loftus said.

Some of Roche’s DCF colleagues, however, said it is common knowledge that the agency cannot be absolutely sure that every child is safe at all times, because they cannot be with the children every moment of the day and many children are missing for various reasons.

Why she say yes then?!

Children’s advocates also said that, regardless of how they are classified by DCF, many missing children, including runaways, are potentially in danger.

A California human rights group, CAS Research and Education, found that many children exploited in commercial sex cases originally came from foster care. A 14-year-old girl, Dymond McGowan, was killed in a late-night shooting in Springfield in 2007 after running away from her foster home.

“My belief is that children who are on the run while in the care of DCF are ‘missing’ unless we know where they are,” said Charles Lerner, a former foster child who now runs a nonprofit that helps monitor abused or neglected children in the court system, the Boston chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates.

“If it were our child,” Lerner said, “we would do everything within our power to find them. In my experience, the system’s response is way too often complacency.”

Fortunately, most children who run away or are abducted are found quickly....

Not all missing children are spending time with friends. Police said a Fitchburg mother fled with her 6-year-old to North Carolina in January after the state won custody of the child. They were found three days after police issued an Amber Alert. The mother, Leeanna Wilson, faces charges including kidnapping of a child by a relative, reckless endangerment, and multiple counts of assault.

Trying to rehabilitate their image at her expense.

Some runaways have been missing for months or longer, suggesting that they may have serious problems.

Relatives said Alisia Laboa, for instance, ran away from the New Bedford group home in December because she wanted to be with family, not in an institution.

I can sympathize with that.

Her aunt, Rayna Martinez, said Alisia has stayed “everywhere and anywhere” since running away, including staying in New York with her birth mother, who is trying to regain custody of the girl.

“Her mother is fighting for her,” said Martinez, who said she would have taken Alisia in herself, but thought she was barred from doing so because she has a criminal record.

Family members paint a picture of a teenager who has been unhappy in the foster and group homes of the child welfare system since she was taken away from her mother roughly eight years ago over allegations that her mother’s boyfriend was abusive. Both Alisia and some of her relatives fault DCF for making the situation worse.

Do a story about DCF ruined my life,” Alisia wrote in a brief message to a reporter through Facebook. “I hate them.”

Globe defends them. 

"Maybe Roche is to blame. Or maybe it’s the governor’s office. But we all could do a better job supporting social workers." 

I'm sorry, I'm not taking collective blame for state failures.

“We want [the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families] to be out of our lives,” said Lou Pelletier, speaking publicly for the first time since a gag order was lifted in the case. “I don’t care whether it’s Connecticut, Massachusetts. . . . Make them go away. They’ve done nothing but harm.” Officials at DCF have stressed that a state judge, not the agency, made the custody decision after court hearings. “Our goal has always been to work with Justina and her parents,” Alec Loftus, a DCF spokesman, said Thursday."

Then why would he be so pissed?

Also seeJudge delays Justina Pelletier ruling until Tuesday

Alisia did not elaborate. But her older sister, Shea Laboa, said they were mistreated in a previous foster home together, while the state did little to make sure they were safe.

“I never once saw a social worker walk through my house to see how things were,” Shea said. “My foster mother refused to get help for her issues, and she was cruel.”

New Bedford police said Alisia appears to have been avoiding police who have been trying to find her.

“Alisia actively runs away on her own,” said New Bedford Detective Sergeant Matt Rayner, noting that Alisia has run away from the group home and other foster homes before.

State welfare officials declined to discuss Laboa or any other missing children citing confidentiality, but said they have a protocol of always contacting police, as well as the child’s parents and attorney, whenever “a child’s whereabouts are unknown.”

The agency said it also consults relatives, friends, and government databases to try to locate the child and, in some cases, even goes to court to compel parents to come forward with information.


“Any child who is not safely tucked in bed is a concern,” said Kathleen Betts, the state’s assistant secretary for children, youth, and families. “We take immediate action.”

Betts also defended Roche’s suggestion that every other child under DCF’s watch is alive and healthy.

“I think what the commissioner was talking about is that we have procedures in place that we count on to ensure that kids are safe and they are accounted for,” Betts said.

All good.

However, Betts acknowledged that she did not know how many children under the state’s care are actually missing.

Linsky, the Natick legislator who questioned Roche about missing children, said he was surprised to hear there were so many other missing children under DCF’s watch after Roche suggested there were none.

“What you are telling me is of grave concern,” Linsky told a Globe reporter in an interview. “I understand they are dealing with a difficult population, but they need to do a better job of knowing where the kids are.”

More worried about spying on us all with cameras and all so they can issue traffic tickets and not solve crimes.



Child welfare agency increases home visits

Reports of potential EBT fraud increase

Better tracking of welfare fraud but they don't know where the kids are?

"Hingham mom charged with leaving infant in car at restaurant" by Jessica Bartlett | Globe Staff  , February 28, 2014

A 21-year-old Hingham woman was arrested Thursday and charged with reckless endangerment to a child after police said she left her 2½-month-old infant in the car after drinking in a restaurant.

Hingham police said officers were dispatched to Stars on Hingham Harbor, a restaurant on Otis Street, at 9:48 a.m. after a call from a customer.

The caller, an off-duty Boston police detective, told police he saw the woman sitting at the bar drinking with an infant. The woman ordered another drink, but the bartender refused to serve it to her, the caller said.

Police said the woman then walked out with the infant. She came back 10 minutes later without the baby and was again refused another drink, police said.

Police said the off-duty detective met officers in the parking lot at the woman’s car. The locked car was not running. The officers could see a fleece blanket covering a child seat in the backseat, police said.

A police release about the incident said the woman approached the officers and said it was her car. Officers asked for the woman’s keys and checked on the infant, who was awake and appeared to be in good condition.

The infant had probably been alone in the car for about 20 minutes.

Officers reported that the mother smelled of alcohol and her eyes were red, glassy, and bloodshot. Police said she questioned why officers were there and became loud and combative as officers tried to obtain information. She was placed under arrest.

Hingham Fire Department paramedics were called to evaluate the infant, and they took the child to South Shore Hospital for examination.

The state Department of Children and Families responded to the hospital, and police said they filed paperwork with the agency on behalf of the infant.

The infant was picked up from the hospital by its father and DCF escorted them back to their house to ensure it was fit for the child’s care, Hingham Police Chief Michael Peraino said.

The parents live with the mother’s grandmother in Hingham, Peraino said.

Police did not release the name of the woman to protect the identity of the infant. She was charged with reckless endangerment of a child and disturbing the peace, and her car was towed from the scene, police said.

The woman was taken to Hingham District Court for arraignment. Details from the hearing were not immediately available.


"No bail for Brockton man in boy’s death; 4-year-old likely dead when mother brought him to hospital" by Evan Allen | Globe staff   March 04, 2014

Chauncey Cohen loved feeding the baby turtles at the zoo, playing with his little half-sister, and zooming around in the Power Wheels Jeep his grandparents got him for his fourth birthday. But in the last six months of his life, Chauncey was afraid: afraid to go home, afraid to explain the bruises on his body, and afraid of his mother’s new boyfriend, Antonio Durham.

On June 2, Chauncey’s mother, Tania Merisca, rushed into Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton with her son’s lifeless body, saying the 4-year-old had suddenly passed out while she gave him a bath at the Holiday Inn Express. But by then, Chauncey had probably been dead for hours.

Durham, 32, was ordered held without bail Tuesday on one count of murder. Prosecutors say he punched Chauncey in the stomach so hard that the little boy bled to death internally. A not-guilty plea was entered on Durham’s behalf during a hearing in Brockton District Court. Merisca, 27, who also pleaded not guilty, was ordered held on $250,000 bail on a charge that she was an accessory after the fact.

“Four-year-old Chauncey Cohen was beaten to death; he was all of 35 pounds,” First Assistant Plymouth District Attorney Frank Middleton said in court....

Relatives of Chauncey’s father, Chet Cohen Jr., wept in the first few rows of benches as Middleton described the little boy’s last days.

In a phone interview after the hearing, Katrina Askew, Chauncey’s paternal grandmother, said Merisca and her son broke up more than two years ago, but remained on good terms....

When Merisca began dating Durham, Askew said, Merisca pulled away from her family, and Chauncey started turning up with unexplained bruises. Askew said she met Durham only once, and Chauncey, she said, did not seem to like him.

But when Askew said she confronted Merisca about her worries, Merisca insisted it was nothing.

In court, Middleton said Merisca told relatives Durham was “trying to ‘toughen up’ this 35-pound 4-year-old.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families said the agency had no involvement with the family....

At 3:43 p.m. June 2, video shows Durham leaving the room carrying Chauncey’s limp body up and down the hallway, his head rolling from side to side.

A housekeeper told police that she saw a man matching Durham’s description standing outside at a dumpster with a child’s body lying on the pavement, head resting on a rock and eyes open staring straight into the sun, in the 97-degree heat. She asked the man if the child was all right, and he replied that the boy was “a little sick.”

A second housekeeper who was in the room when Durham brought Chauncey back inside told authorities that Durham laid the boy’s body on the bed, assured her he was fine, and then tried to get her to go out on a date with him.

When Merisca came back from work around 7:14 p.m., Middleton said, the boy was probably dead.

Merisca and Durham smoked marijuana, Middleton said, before taking the boy to the hospital. Durham fled the hospital; Merisca left before her son was declared dead, according to the prosecutor, and began begging her brother and his girlfriend to lie for her and say they watched the boy all day. They refused.

Merisca eventually told officers that on Saturday night, she went out to 7-Eleven around 11:30, and came back to find her son sitting fully dressed on the toilet. The boy said his stomach hurt because Durham had punched him, said Middleton, and later that night, he vomited green fluid.

“When she woke up at 10 o’clock in the morning to go to work, he was nonresponsive,” said Middleton. “She kissed him, and his eyes didn’t move. He was not responding to her voice. . . . But she left anyway.”

Durham’s attorney, Elliot Levine, said his client has shown up for court dates, and that he has no history of violence toward his 7-year-old son. Merisca’s attorney, Sean O’Brien, said she has no criminal history....

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, who said prosecutors had to wait for the medical examiner’s report, which was only recently completed, to file charges, said, “Hopefully, justice will be there for Chauncey.”