State ranks near bottom in child welfare

Massachusetts State House boston
The Department of Children and Families has been under scrutiny following the case of Jeremiah Oliver.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Amid the investigation into the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, additional data shows the state ranks near the bottom in certain child welfare measurements.

Massachusetts ranked 38th in the U.S. in the percent of foster children visited by caseworkers each month, according to the Globe. The 2012 data comes from the federal Department of Health and Human Services and is the most recent available.

It’s more bad news for the embattled DCF, which has been the subject of criticism and scrutiny in recent months after 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver was reported missing in December. The Fitchburg child was under the oversight of DCF.

Additionally, Massachusetts ranked 45th in the category of children not mistreated again within six months.

State officials told the Globe that different states sometimes use different standards to compile the data and that every state has its own regulations and rules. They also said that Massachusetts requires less proof than most other states to substantiate a report of abuse or neglect, leading to the mistreated children ranking.

Last month, a report by the state’s Office of the Child Advocate said that excessive caseloads at DCF were no excuse for losing track of Oliver, and that DCF workers missed nearly 20 percent of home visits. After the report came out, Gov. Deval Patrick said the Oliver case was a tragedy, but also a chance to “rethink and reinvigorate” DCF.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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