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CAI Holds Congressional Briefing to Unveil New Report:

Shame on U.S.
Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave
Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm
January 27, 2015

The federal government's dereliction allows states to fall short on meeting minimum child welfare standards. Below is information specific to Massachusetts.

CFSR Results Summary: In its Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process, HHS determines whether each state is in substantial conformity with 7 specific outcomes (pertaining to the areas of safety, permanency and family and child well-being) and 7 systemic factors (relating to the quality of services delivered to children and families and the outcomes they experience).  In the first two rounds of the CFSR, HHS has concluded that Massachusetts was:

Round 1 (2001)

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 6 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 1 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Round 2 (2008)   

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 6 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 1 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Although federal law mandates that any state found not to be operating in substantial conformity during an initial or subsequent review must begin a full review within two years after approval of the state's program improvement plan, HHS has announced that Massachusetts will not undergo Round 3 of the CFSR until FY 2015 (see CFSR Technical Bulletin #7 (March 2014)).

Documents from the U.S. Health & Human Services Children's Bureau

Child Welfare Litigation*

  • Connor v. Patrick
    Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, filed this case against Deval L. Patrick, in his official capacity as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; JudyAnn Bigby, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health & Human Services; and Angelo McClain, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). The suit was filed on behalf of all children in DCF foster care custody and alleged violations of their substantive and procedural due process rights, their right to family association, and violations of the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980.  The stories of the lead named plaintiffs in this class action, who represent the class as a whole, illustrate the devastating effects of a broken system on the children it purports to serve.

*litigation summary taken from information provided by the website of Children's Rights

Child Welfare In the News**

  • Report blasts DCF for failure to meet fed standards (Boston Herald - January 27, 2015) Years before the Bay State's child welfare system was beset by scandal, it was consistently falling short of national benchmarks, according to a scathing report slated for release today.
  • Review: Deficiencies at DCF uncorrected (Opinion) (Boston Herald - January 20, 2015) DCF has failed to make good on critical reforms to protect the state's most vulnerable children, according to a Herald review that found the agency did not do required monthly checks on nearly 5,000 kids, still has no idea how many convicts live in foster homes and has yet to report more than 100 runaways to an online database that tracks missing youths.
  • Rep. David Linsky says it's time to act on DCF report (Opinion) ( Boston Herald - January 14, 2015) State Rep. David Linsky, the Natick Democrat who heads the committee, said he wasn't going to "second-guess individual placements" but added that the committee didn't receive all the details about DCF's decisions.
  • Caseloads still key for state child protection agency (State House News Service - January 13, 2015) Noting the department hired 501 social workers since last January, two legislative committees have determined that manageable caseloads top the list of agenda items for the agency charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect.
  • Despite changes, some say state child welfare agency still has far to go in meeting commitment to children (Sun Chronicle - January 11, 2015) Tragic deaths of children whose families were overseen by Massachusetts child welfare officials ignited a sense of moral outrage and lent additional urgency to the cause of saving children's lives throughout 2014.
  • Struggle continues: DCF not improved since Jeremiah's death, critics say (Worcester Telegram & Gazette - January 03, 2015) DCF implemented numerous policy changes in 2014 and hired more social workers, but those who work for the embattled agency say the issue that led up to the boy's disappearance is now worse than ever.
  • Mass. Foster Care Reform Punted to Legislature (Courthouse News Service - December 17, 2014) The responsibility for fixing Massachusetts' seriously flawed foster care system resides with the state's legislature, not the courts, the 1st Circuit ruled.
  • Gov.-elect Charlie Baker wants to meet with group in suit vs. state over DCF (Boston Herald - November 13, 2014) Gov.-elect Charlie Baker wants to huddle with the New York child advocacy group at the center of a high-profile suit against the state's embattled child welfare system that became a hot button issue during the campaign.

**news summaries taken from daily newsfeed service of HHS' Child Welfare Information Gateway


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Children's Advocacy Institute
University of San Diego School of Law
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