Report Finds Massachusetts DCF Not Responsible For Death Of 5-Year-Old

An outside probe of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families released Wednesday concludes the agency should not be held responsible for the death of a 5-year-old boy whose family was under state supervision.

The Department of Children and Families already admitted that  the social workers assigned to Jeremiah Oliver’s case skipped home visits and didn’t realize the boy had gone missing.

But the Child Welfare League of America, which was hired by the governor to investigate the department, implied DCF couldn’t have prevented the child’s death.  Linda Spears is with the Welfare League.

“While there is significant evidence that DCF staff did not do it’s job, there is not evidence that DCF’s actions and failures caused Jeremiah’s death,” says Spears.

The report also looked at broader problems in the department and concluded that policies are grossly out of date.  It found that DCF is serving more children now than anytime in the last 20 years and current caseloads far outstrip the department’s workforce.
The governor recommended a $9 million increase for DCF in the budget for next year and the house and senate have proposed over $14 million. But the report found that DCF will need more than that to get caseloads down to a manageable level.