Report: Caseload no excuse for missing Fitchburg boy

Massachusetts State House boston
Massachusetts State House
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro file photo

A new report examining the missteps by the Department of Children and Families that led to the disappearance of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy said that excessive caseloads on social workers were no excuse for the vanishing. 

The state Office of the Child Advocate released its report on Thursday after Gov. Deval Patrick requested it when it was learned that Jeremiah Oliver had not been seen for months.

“Excessive caseloads do not excuse the specific failures that prevented DCF from discovering Jeremiah Oliver’s disappearance,” the child advocate office wrote in the 11-page report. “DCF supervisors and managers failed to prioritize their limited resources in a manner calculated to do the least harm to children and families.”

Oliver’s mother, Elsa, was arraigned last month on reckless endangerment of a child and other charges. Her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, was also arraigned last month on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a child. They are both being held.

The report said that the higher than allowed caseloads at the North Central Area Office of DCF “provide a context rather than an explanation or excuse for repeated failures.”

According to the report, the area office was one of the busiest DCF offices in the state and social workers there had a weighted average of 18.5 caseloads each, which was above the 18 caseload cap agreed to with the social workers union.

The report also discussed the impacts of budget cuts on DCF since the most recent recession, including the layoffs of supervisors.

Three DCF employees have been fired since it was revealed that Oliver could not be found and the social worker assigned to his case hadn’t visited his family since April.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…