Embattled Mass. DCF Gets More Help

Gov. Deval Patrick has sent a member of his inner circle and a team of experts to oversee changes at the embattled Department of Children and Families.

Erin McAleer, the administration's director of Cabinet affairs, will be special project manager at DCF "to provide support and assistance" to Commissioner Olga Roche for the next couple of months, agency spokesman Alec Loftus told the Boston Herald.

She is among several state employees reassigned to the child welfare agency as the agency grapples with allegations of abuse and neglect in foster homes; overburdened and unlicensed social workers; and the disappearance of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy last year, who is now feared dead.

McAleer's job will include "creating stronger policies and procedures," but Commissioner Olga Roche remains in charge despite calls from some, including lawmakers and gubernatorial candidates, for her to reign.

McAleer and her team also will work on new technology, recruiting and communications with the public and legislators, who have demanded more information on convicted criminals serving as foster parents.

Patrick has resisted calls to fire Roche over the case of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who has not been seen by family members since last September.

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.

Jeremiah's mother and her boyfriend have pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the case.

This article was originally published on February 24, 2014.


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