Letter: Reform DCF now
Two more child deaths being investigated where DCF may have made a difference? Isn’t it time to revisit the system reforms that national child watchdog Children’s Rights has advocated to transform a system that has been lacking for years? That could be a critical piece of averting further disaster. There is no one solution … including the resignation of Commissioner Roche from the DCF. Appointing a placeholder commissioner, who has been at DCF for less than a month and was the chief of staff at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, is worrisome. But pointing fingers at various agencies, politicians and departments won’t help either.
Struggling caseworkers need real resources and tools to help children who come to them for protection and care. This takes: money to increase staff to reduce caseloads; and having an array of services at the ready to appropriately intervene, rather than pretend that a child’s or family’s needs are not as significant as they truly are because services are not available. This will take the political will of the Legislature and others to ensure adequate appropriations. It will take money for mental health and substance abuse treatment and domestic violence intervention to safeguard some of the commonwealth’s most needy individuals; and it will take a core commitment from us all and a bottom line belief that the best interests of children must be met before the needs of systems designed to protect and serve them.
These children don’t vote. They don’t have parents willing or able to advocate for them. We are at a critical crossroads that can be beyond transformative. It can be life saving. We need to be painfully honest about the issues if we are to truly transform the child welfare system. For whatever reason, these last months have grabbed the attention of the press and public to focus on a situation that has existed for years. It is encouraging that the Legislature is moving to address these issues. We can’t let go now. These children don’t have time.
RANDEE LAIKIND and JANE LYONS