BOSTON — The head of the embattled Department of Children and Families offered to resign after social workers lost track of a 5-year-old boy who is now feared dead, but Gov. Deval Patrick said Friday that he refused to accept.
Patrick has resisted calls to fire Commissioner Olga Roche over the case of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who has not been seen by family members since last September and is feared dead.
Patrick said during his monthly radio show on WGBH-FM that it makes more sense to keep Roche on to focus on fixing problems in the agency rather than using her resignation to “paper over” the troubles and leave them for his successor. He said that it wouldn’t serve the best interest of children to ask for Roche’s resignation.
An aide to Patrick said Roche had offered to step down if Patrick no longer had confidence in her, but that she had not delivered a formal letter of resignation.
Three DCF employees – a social worker, a supervisor and an area manager – were fired after an internal investigation. Officials said a social worker did not make required monthly visits to the family.
Oliver’s mother and her boyfriend have pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the case.
Calls for Roche’s resignation have increased in recent weeks. Two dozen Massachusetts lawmakers last week sent a letter to Patrick seeking her resignation. Charlie Baker, a Republican candidate for governor, has also called on her to step down.