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One toddler dead, another critical in latest foster care nightmare

Two toddlers were taken from an Auburn home, one did not survive.

DCF Commissioner Linda Spears

Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe

One toddler is dead and another is in critical condition after they were taken from a foster home on Pheasant Court in Auburn, the latest in a long string of problems for theDepartment of Children and Families.

Authorities spent Sunday to determine the cause of death to one child and the injuries to the other.

One girl died a short time after being removed from the house. Another is in critical condition, though authorities released no information regarding the circumstances of the tragedy as of Sunday evening.

In total, six children lived in the house, three of which were in foster care programs. Pheasant Court in an affordable housing neighborhood in the quiet town.

DCF spokeswoman Andrea Grossman said that the agency is conducting its own investigation and is “actively working with law enforcement and medical personnel.”

Neighbors told The Globe that they saw paramedics running out of the house at about 1 p.m.on Saturday afternoon with two young girls. A woman was seen following them in a state of hysterics.

The Worcester Telegram reported that the mother, Kim Malpass, lived in the state-subsidized apartment and neighbors described her as a good mother who provided for the children under her care.

DCF social workers called upon the Massachusetts Senate for reform after they saidcaseloads have spiked anunmanageable level after the disappearance and death ofJeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old boy in the DCF system who was reported missing in December 2014 and was found stuffed in luggage off of I-90 near Sterling.

As a result, three DCF employees were fired once it was revealed that Oliver went missing and that the social worker assigned to his case hadn’t visited his family since April. Former Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche stepped down in the wake of Oliver’s death. A review found that social workers failed to make required family visits and properly report on DCF’s contact with Oliver’s family.

But 2014 was a bad year for kids under DCF care.

One-month-old Aliana Lavigne was also found dead in a Grafton apartment in April 2014, two days after social workers found a week-old fax from Grafton police. Another infant, 2-week old Bailey Irish, also died in April 2014 after her family missed a scheduled DCF visit the day before.

In 2015, 7-year-old Hardwick boy fell into a coma early this month from apparent starvation and dehydration after it was revealed that the DCF worker in charge of his case was operating without a license.

SIEU 509 spokesman Jason Stephany told Metrothere are about 3,000 social workers in the field, but an additional 375 are needed.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's press secretary released a statement:

"Governor Baker is deeply saddened to learn of this tragic situation and is in constant communication with leadership at DCF and public safety about their ongoing investigation."

The Worcester County District Attorney’s Office was unavailable for comment on Sunday.

 

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