Baker: All hands on deck following death of toddler in DCF care
A child in a foster home in Auburn died on Saturday and another is in intensive care.
Governor Charlie Baker called for “all hands on deck” in the investigation of the death of a toddler in a foster home in Auburn.
The Department of Children and Families said that the foster mother of the deceased and of another child who is in intensive care is cooperating with the authorities as they try to determine whether the child’s death was accidental, medial or criminal.
“The death of any child is a tragedy,” Baker said. “We plan to get to the bottom of these and to make the changes that need to be made so this doesn’t happen going forward.”
Medical professionals performed CPR and other life-saving methods on the girl who was not breathing on Saturday afternoon. She was declared dead at Worcester hospital. The other girl is in intensive care. The two are not related by blood, but were both foster children.
A 6-month-old, who also was in DCF care, was also taken from the house as a precautionary move. In total, there were six children in the house.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudder, who oversees DCF, said there were no issues with the foster mother since she was licensed to oversee foster children. DCF had visited the home four days prior to the child’s death and said that nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
There have been no arrests in this instance and no DCF worker has been disciplined.
Baker promised swift results in this investigation and into the death of a 7-year-old boy in Hardwick who was under DCF supervision. The boy was found nearly starved to death and his father was charged as a result.
DCF social workers called upon the Massachusetts Senate for reform after they said caseloads have spiked an unmanageable level after the disappearance and death of Jeremiah 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.
In 2014, one-month-old Aliana Lavigne was also found dead in a Grafton apartment in April, 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.