We continue to advocate for a foster care review office that is independent of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). It has been an internal unit staffed by DCF employees, a situation that leads to a disturbing lack of external oversight and obvious conflicts of interest. An independent foster-care review process would provide an opportunity to objectively assess, report, and make recommendations to all relevant stakeholders regarding the well-being of children and families.
Update on House and Senate bills to create an Independent Foster Care Review Office:
The House and Senate bills filed this legislative session by Senator Comerford and Representatives Farley-Bouvier and Donato remain with the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities (JC) until June, 2022, when the JC is required to act on the bills. Stay tuned to our website and our email notices for updates. You can help right now by contacting your state Senator and Representative to express your support for an independent foster care review process and ask them to contact the JC to request that the original bills be favorably voted out of the JC. You can find your legislators here and more details regarding the bills here.
Failing Our Kids: We have updated Failing Our Kids, the only publicly available chronicle of Massachusetts child welfare via critical foster care measures and a timeline of key events. We have added the recently released Child Trends data for FY2020 to the initial comparison last year with FY2019 data. Massachusetts consistently performs below national averages across all measures, and very poorly in direct comparison to the wealthiest, poorest, and most populated states, as well as the other New England states, in both FY2019 and FY2020.
Friends of Children will continue to press the Administration, the Legislature, and the Office of the Child Advocate to acknowledge and address these poor performance measures and the ineffective policy and procedures reforms that have been announced for years in response to a horrific event. This chronicle is a clarion call for a major shift in the state’s approach to “reform.” The well-being of children, youth, and young adults entrusted to our child welfare system must drive all reform efforts in the Commonwealth.