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Child Welfare Agency Sees Only Half Their Cases In Person

The Massachusetts child welfare agency is seeing only about half of their cases in person, according to the most recent data released by the agency in December and January.

The state Department of Children and Families visited 46% of its cases in-person in January and 54% in December, the Boston Globe reported on Monday.

Since August, the department’s policy has been to alternate virtual and in-person visits for the 42,000 children that it cares for or oversees, the newspaper reported.

Social workers became eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine at the end of January, and with warmer weather coming, Maria Mossaides, the director of the Office of the Child Advocate, told the newspaper there is, “no excuse not to find a place to meet.”

Most elementary and middle schools in the state have been mandated to return to full time, in-person learning this month. Many day cares have been operating in-person since the summer.

An investigation into the death of a 14-year-old autistic boy in October identified the fact that DCF had not prioritized his family for in-person visits as one of the many failures that led to his death. The Office of the Child Advocate, which investigated the death, also found that DCF had not issued guidance on how to conduct an effective virtual visit during the pandemic, though the agency’s commissioner said last week that it would follow the recommendations from the advocate’s report.

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