Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Baker's First Crisis

Related: Young children removed from Auburn home by paramedics, neighbors say

"DCF visited Auburn home days before child’s death; Clues sought in foster home case" by Jan Ransom, Astead W. Herndon and Jennifer Smith Globe Staff | Globe Correspondents  August 16, 2015

AUBURN — State child welfare officials visited the home of a foster child four days before the 2-year-old died and a 22-month-old was hospitalized, officials said Sunday, as investigators continued to search for clues in what they called a “very difficult” and “evolving” case.

“There’s a lot of questions,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said at a news conference Sunday evening. “There’s a lot of work that has to be done.”


The start of the answers:

"The death of a 2-year-old, the hospitalization of a 22-month-old, and the precautionary hospitalization of a 6-month-old, all of whom were in foster care at an Auburn home, have put a spotlight on how the foster care system in Massachusetts works and what it does to protect children.

Or not.

Here is a quick overview of how the system works in Massachusetts....


"Dozens of 911 calls made at Auburn home where girl died; State launches investigation into death of 2-year-old Avalena" by Michael Levenson and Astead W. Herndon Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent  August 17, 2015

AUBURN — Since 2008, police and emergency personnel have responded to more than two dozen 911 calls at the home where a 2-year-old foster child died over the weekend, officials said Monday, as Governor Charlie Baker launched an investigation into the latest tragedy involving children under the care of the state child welfare system. 

It washes away all the public relations and self-adulation coming from the ruling class, and quite honestly, is a massive failure of government. 

(It's also noted that it is under the term of.... Patrick. No wonder he's hiding out on corporate boards and not running for president. That and the $2 billion budget hole he left. That not a good selling point for a campaign. But back to Baker. It's his show now)

The calls — 28 in all — reported assaults, threats, breaking and entering, a domestic disturbance, and medical emergencies. Police and emergency personnel responded to an additional 35 calls at the two homes in Auburn where the foster mother lived between 2004 and 2008.

Romney probably gutted it before Deval and the Democrats took over.

Marylou Sudders, the state secretary of health and human services, pointed out that most of the calls were made before the mother became a foster parent, in March 2014. But she said officials will consider whether 911 calls to a home should be part of the standard background check conducted on foster parents, a review that currently involves a home inspection and criminal history search.

Who will watch the children? I don't know, and sometimes shudder at who might.  Take care of your own.

Baker, who campaigned on a promise to revamp the troubled child welfare system, said more money was needed to contend with the Department of Children and Families’ soaring caseloads, which have reached an all-time high, up 30 percent since December 2013.

You can take a look at the budget (and when he got there the cupboard was bare).

“I’m not going to be satisfied until we get to the point where this sort of thing doesn’t happen. Period,” said the governor, who is suddenly contending with the second major crisis at DCF in a month. “This has my highest priority,” he said. 

I give him credit for trying to clean up this mess, but decades of neglect can only be fixed by decades of attention. I see no evidence of the ruling cla$$ offering that up despite their $elf-$erving genero$ity.


The foster mother obtained a restraining order against the father of her two biological children in 2009, after saying she feared he would “act and take” the children away from her.

The foster mother and her children were being monitored by 10 DCF supervisors, managers, and frontline case workers, but officials acknowledged Monday that three of them were not licensed.

WTF?!??! And they all missed it?

Two of those without licenses worked directly with the 2-year-old who died and the 22-month old who is in critical condition. The third unlicensed worker made the final visit to the family’s home Wednesday. One of the unlicensed workers is retiring, officials said, and the other two are slated to take the licensing exam. Veteran employees had until July 1 to get a license, and new hires have a year from their start date. 

Licensed, non-licensed, I'm being diverted. 10 workers on the case?

DCF has been under intense scrutiny since 2013, when state social workers lost track of Jeremiah Oliver, a Fitchburg boy whose body was found on the side of a highway last year.

Last month, a 7-year-old Hardwick boy who was under DCF watch was nearly killed, allegedly by his father who police say beat him and refused him food and water. A DCF worker had visited the boy’s home just two weeks before the child, who had lost 12 to 15 pounds in recent weeks, fell into a coma and his father called 911.

I left that coverage behind last month.

The Auburn case has renewed concerns about the foster-care system, which a federal judge chastised in 2013 for failing thousands of foster children whose futures in Massachusetts he called “murkier than in most places in America.”


That SO bumps into the myth I've been fed my whole life.

The judge, William G. Young, found that DCF had “failed not only to comport with national standards of care and state and federal requirements, but also to comply with its own internal policies” for protecting children in foster care.

Young issued his ruling as he dismissed a class-action lawsuit against DCF, but he said he was disturbed that it places children in inappropriate foster homes, lacks proper educational and medical services, and has subpar caseload management and training practices.

The agency’s failings, Young said, were “more about budgetary shortfalls than management myopia” and added: “We are all complicit in this financial failure.” 

I reject the collective guilt. 

Despite that harsh assessment, which became a major point of contention in last year’s governor’s race, DCF is still plagued by a lack of foster homes, inadequate training for foster parents, and insufficient services to help foster children thrive, said Erin G. Bradley, executive director of the Children’s League of Massachusetts.

At least poor Hollywood is getting cut millions of dollars in tax loot for making movies here.

Maybe the DCF workers should go play the ponies instead.

“The current health of the foster care system is not well,” Bradley said. 


The 2-year-old’s biological mother, Jessica A. Conway, has struggled with drug addiction and was released from South Middlesex Correctional Center in Framingham on Aug. 9.


Ronald Green, the child’s biological father, attempted to gain custody of the girl last September, according to custody documents. The case was dismissed when neither party appeared in court. It was the second time he had missed a court appearance following a petition for custody of the girl.

My dad doesn't care about me, that's the message there.

Speaking Monday with Conway at his side, Green said he had not been involved in his daughter’s life because he had been in jail as a result of his drug problems. He faulted DCF for placing the girl in a home with a history of 911 calls. 

I take it back.

“If you’re well known to the police, why would you give custody to children, little children, any children at that?” he said, according to WCVB-TV. “I really think they need to investigate more where they put these children.”

Nothing personal, guy, but where were you and why?

Conway was critical of the way DCF handled visits with her daughter while she was in jail, telling the Globe on Sunday that a social worker logged some visits that never took place.

They phoned up records like the VA?

DCF declined to comment on the allegations Monday, but a spokeswoman said the department takes visitation rights seriously and trains its workers to follow all protocols.

Conway said she wants someone to be held accountable for her daughter’s death.... 

No offense to her, and I know I'm supposed to bleed my heart for drug addicts (unless it's pot), but a little accountability comes her way.


If I didn't know better I would think that Massachusetts hates children.

Also see: Tragedy should be nonpartisan when it comes to children

I'm not partisan; I see a plague on both their houses.


Girl taken from Auburn foster home in ‘dire’ condition

Baker is latest governor to battle child welfare woes

I'd call in sick if I were you.