Changes recommended for DCF

BOSTON (AP) – Giving smartphones to social workers and taking photos of all children who enter state care are among the recommendations of an independent group examining the Massachusetts’ child welfare system.

The group also recommends staffing levels of no more than a dozen cases assigned to a single social worker in the assessment stage and no more than 17 for ongoing cases.

The Department of Children and Families has been under scrutiny since social workers lost track of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who has not been seen since September and is feared dead.

Gov. Deval Patrick asked the Child Welfare League of America to review the agency.

In an initial report released Thursday, the group said giving phones to social workers would give them real-time case file access, while taking photos would help track runaways.

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