BOSTON (WWLP) - After several months of controversy, Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche has stepped down. 22News asked local lawmakers whether action should have been taken sooner.
Commissioner Roche’s resignation comes after three children under DCF’s care were found dead, two this month alone. 22 News spoke with western Massachusetts lawmakers about what should be done moving forward.
The Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche resigned Tuesday morning following intense pressure from top political leaders. Governor Patrick, who has backed Roche in the past, expressed that he too, had given up hope.
“It’s clear from the events of this weekend that she can no longer command the trust of the public or the confidence of her line staff,” said Governor Patrick.
Erin Deveney has been appointed Interim Commissioner. She was the Chief of Staff for the Registry of Motor Vehicles, but has no prior social work experience. Westfield Democrat John Velis believes a strong leader is what is needed to turn the agency around.
“I think it’s very important for the new commissioner, I mean, she needs to take control. I mean leadership is a way out of the turmoil that they’re facing right now. Projecting confidence, being a strong leader, is the way out of this for DCF,” said Westfield State Representative John Velis.
In addition to a new commissioner, Governor Patrick said there will be staffing and policy changes within the Department of Children and Families, but local lawmakers say more action needs to be taken to regain the public’s trust.
“Moving forward, the relationship between the commissioner and the legislature, I think, is going to be critically important. The biggest thing is going to be communication. We need to make sure the lines of communication remain open,” said Springfield State Representative Angelo Puppolo.
Appointing a new interim commissioner while DCF is going through so many internal changes is risky, but local lawmakers said it’s time to rebuild both the public’s trust, and the agency as a whole.