Children under the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families suffered at least 260 serious injuries in 2014 and 2015, and none of those injuries were noted in their DCF records.
That deeply disturbing conclusion from a report out Thursday by state Auditor Suzanne Bump. The report also found that social workers didn't know children they were monitoring had been badly hurt. Even more troubling: The report found 19 instances — including rape, sexual abuse by a DCF-contracted employee or assaults — but those cases were not reported to local prosecutors.
This report comes as DCF has been undergoing major reform efforts since September 2015 after several children died while under DCF supervision.
The Baker administration declined our requests for interviews with DCF Commissioner Linda Spears and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
The governor's communications director Lizzy Guyton issued the following statement:
“The information in this audit is not current as it began four years ago during the prior administration, and the Baker-Polito Administration began implementing a comprehensive overhaul of DCF reforms in 2015 to support the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children. While many of our reforms have already corrected or addressed concerns raised by the auditor, the department has increased its budget by over $100 million, hired nearly 400 new social workers and managers and implemented several new intake and management policies—including an improved DA referral process to require written citations of sexual assault allegations."
DCF spokeswoman Andrea Grossman added, in a statement:
"The department’s priority is to protect our most vulnerable children and it relies on mandated reporters, such as health care providers, physicians and teachers, to provide us with up-to-the-moment information about serious instances of suspected abuse and neglect so that we can respond with the urgency they deserve and ensure safety. DCF regularly conducts trainings for mandated reporters across the state and offers online trainings developed by local District Attorneys to encourage reporting for any instance of suspected abuse or neglect among children."
This segment aired on December 7, 2017.