State DCF head Olga Roche steps down in wake of child deaths

Governor Deval Patrick speaks at a press conference announcing the resignation of DCF head Olga Roche. Photo: Morgan Rousseau/Metro
Gov. Deval Patrick speaks at a press conference announcing the resignation of DCF chief Olga Roche. Credit: Morgan Rousseau/Metro

Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz announced Tuesday that embattled Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche has stepped down.

Polanowicz, Roche’s boss, made the announcement at a press conference at the state office building on Ashburton Place, one day after Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray called for her resignation.

“Today I have accepted her resignation because I believe it is not possible for the agency to move forward with her at the helm,” he said.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who was present at the announcement, said he was saddened, but agreed that Roche not only lacked the trust of the public, but of her staff.

Roche, who has worked in social services for 33 years, did not attend the press conference, but Patrick said she told him that “whatever she does still causes folks to call for her resignation; that she cannot garner the confidence of the public or of her line staff.”

“I think the time for a change is now; I don’t think it’s right, but I think it’s necessary,” Patrick said.

The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that Patrick’s office had started seeking candidates to replace Roche, who has been under fire following the recent deaths of two infants and the high-profile case of a missing Fitchburg boy, who two weeks ago was found dead by a Sterling roadway.

Polanowicz said Deputy Commissioner Erin Deveney would helm the agency in the interim until a permanent replacement is found.

One-month-old Aliana Lavigne was found dead in a Grafton apartment earlier this month, two days after social workers found a week-old fax from Grafton police.

Another infant, 2-week old Bailey Irish, died Saturday after her family missed a scheduled DCF visit the day before.

On April 18, the body of a missing Fitchburg 5-year-old, Jeremiah Oliver, was found by an interstate in Sterling. The boy had been missing since September, though his disappearance wasn’t reported until December.

A review found that social workers failed to make required family visits and properly report on DCF’s contact with Oliver’s family.

Polanowicz said they were changing the agency’s reporting form so that police clearly know protocol when reporting child welfare.

“DCF has one of the toughest assignments imaginable. Every single day they’re called upon to intervene and make difficult decisions,” Patrick said on Tuesday. “And most of the time, DCF gets it right.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.