Report: Agency not responsible for Jeremiah Oliver’s death

BOSTON (WWLP) – The Child Welfare League of America released a final review of the state Department of Children and Families. 22News was there when the agency outlined their plan to better protect the state’s most vulnerable children.

A four month review of the Department of Children and Families clears the agency in the death of five year-old Jeremiah Oliver, but they do admit things could have been done better.

“There is, however, significant evidence that some staff did not do their job in the Oliver case. There is not evidence that DCF’s actions caused Jeremiah’s death,” said Linda Spears of the Child Welfare League of America.

The review by the league outlined a series of improvements DCF should make, including updating the agency’s policies and protocols, which they say are “largely out-of-date.” The agency has hired more staff to lower caseloads and plans to update technology by handing out thousands of cell phones and tablets to social workers for better real-time case information.

“We’ve invested in technology that will help our staff work more effectively and efficiently. Together, we’ve invested in new staff hiring with nearly 200 staff added in this calendar year,” said of Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz.

The review also suggests investigating all reports of abuse or neglect of children under five years old, increase substance abuse treatment, and make sure all updated practices and policies are applied statewide.

“These recommendations will allow us to create greater consistency in our policy and in our practices and to develop additional tools to help keep children safe and families strong,” said Interim DCF Commissioner Erin Deveney.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was not present during the announcement. He is currently in Isreal. DCF has created a 60-day action plan that will kick start these new changes within the agency.

 

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