WBUR

Preliminary DCF Report Calls For More Staff Supervision

BOSTON — An independent nonpartisan group tasked with reviewing the state’s troubled child welfare system is advising the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to improve its supervision of staff, and to redistribute cases to help ease the burden on social workers juggling hefty workloads.

In a preliminary report released Thursday, the Child Welfare League of America also highlighted the need to improve technology so case workers can document visits in real time and complete forms in the field.

The current software system — the Massachusetts Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System — does not allow for real-time access from handheld devices. Some DCF workers have expressed frustration that the present technology is clunky and slows down their work, making it difficult to visit all their families and input data promptly.

The report also suggests that the DCF more closely monitor children who have been placed in homes approved through a waiver process.

The “progress update” does not provide many concrete solutions, and it offers no specific recommendations regarding the case of the 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who was under DCF supervision when he went missing. Jeremiah Oliver was last seen in September and is now feared dead. The boy’s case sparked outrage among lawmakers and led to this review.

A spokesperson for the union that represents state social workers said the initial report reinforces the “real and immediate need to address the systemic challenges front-line social workers have raised for many years.”

“Governor Patrick and the legislature have already taken important first steps to address issues identified in the League’s interim report, yet significant challenges persist at the Department of Children & Families,” Jason Stephany said in a statement. “We sincerely hope the Commissioner takes these recommendations seriously – and acts immediately to remove remaining impediments to the Department’s vital child protection mission.”

The CWLA says it intends to include recommendations relative to the Oliver case and specific advice for systemic policy problems in its final report, which is expected to be released in May.

More:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • John Gatti Jr

    From: Massachusetts Whistleblower/Oversight Watch Massachusetts

    Former Massachusetts Republican and Democratic Governors Michael Dukakis and Bill Weld along with their Secretaries of Human Services, Phillip Johnston, David Forsberg and especially Charles Baker, Jr. are to blame for the failed system we have today at the Department of Children and Families along with the SEIU Social Workers Union Bosses who failed to demand adequate support and resources for their dues paying members struggling to do their job protecting vulnerable children in need.

    For years the Administrative Reign of Terror goes on not providing Foster Care Children the compassion, Care, and Concern needed by both Democratic and Republican Administrations through almost any intense oversight and accountability of taxpayer dollars.

    We can trace the carnage back to the Dukakis Administration and his failed Democratic Party Profiteer Human Services guru Secretary Phillip Johnston.

    This continued to an art form by the Weld Administration that brought these failures to an art form by failed Human Services Secretary David Forsberg and later the worst by Charles Baker, Jr. Subsequent Governors not solving the crisis during their short tenures continued the failures. Deval Patrick is the latest edition of Governors and the recipient of a public, media, and missing in action Legislature finally waking up and maybe taking action?

    Baker plied his failed ideas and polices as the Human Services Czar and later as Chief Budget Administrator of purse strings give away of taxpayer dollars to contractors, providers, and vendors. Baker implemented the system of fewer accountants and auditor watchdogs to insure monies allotted are well spent and services to those in need were provided.

    The SEIU Social Worker Union Bosses have failed their dues paying Social Workers struggling to protect vulnerable children with improper advocacy, tools, and resources. The union has been too silent on private contractors and providers getting resources and contracts they trying to organize for more dues as their own members were getting less to do their work on behalf of affected children and taxpayers.

    Their legacies of waste, fraud, and, abuse policies of no bid unmonitored contracts continues through subsequent Administrations reaching to this disgusting height of the Patrick Administration.

    I remember the constant pleas for years by the Legislative Foster Caucus led by former foster child legislator Marie J. Parente, who sounded alarm after alarm year after year attempting to protect the vulnerable and often discarded children under the last available protection of the state.

    Parente worked tirelessly for the victimized children despite her unanswered pleas to the media, public, and other legislators. She along with other former foster care legislators Gloria, Fox, and Stan Rosenberg advocated as abuse after abuse and mismanagement was reported to changing temporary administrations.

    Those who have sounded these alarms are always overshadowed by the well heeled so called improperly named Child Care industry and politically connected not insuring accountability and oversight.

    The Foster Care System is an absolute failure where dysfunctional contractors, individuals are getting tax dollars. The monies have been wasted or pirated by those taking needed dollars for quality services not provided with little oversight or accountability.

    Massachusetts Government does not have a direct care safety net for the children in need and is totally dependent on outside exploitation by the Human Serves Industrial Establishment looking for unmonitored tax dollars.

    Foster Care Children and Taxpayers deserve better.

Most Popular