More Complaints About Mass. Dept. of Children and Families

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families is facing more criticism, this time from a central Massachusetts schools superintendent. 

This all started last month when it became clear state social workers had lost track of Jeremiah Oliver – a five year old boy from Fitchburg who is feared dead. 

Now new concerns are surfacing about a DCF office in Whitinsville, where the school superintendent alleges the agency ignored repeated reports of suspected abuse.  

Gov. Deval Patrick said Tuesday that the DCF commissioner is trying to get the facts.

“I think every incident that is a real incident is a serious one,” Patrick said. “And I think you’ve seen from the commissioner and her team and from the rest of this administration that we’ve taken it very seriously.”

 The governor would NOT commit to [any] structural changes. But Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is running for governor, is proposing a new investigative unit within DCF whose only mission would be to look out for the safety of the child.

“The mandate of the department is to do 2 things, to keep families together and to keep kids safe,” Coakley said. “And there’s an inherent conflict in those two missions.” 

Coakley said that conflict increases the risk that children will be left with their abusers for too long.