• Commissioner of Dept. of Children and Families won't claim responsibility in department scandal


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The Commissioner of Department of Children and Families (DCF) says she can be "objective" in a top down review of its own failings related to the case involving Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old missing boy from Fitchburg.

    When FOX 25 Political Reporter Sharman Sacchetti asked Commissioner Olga Roche if she should resign, she told us she is "very much committed to the agency."

    When asked if she bears any of the responsibility in this case Roche said, "we're talking about a situation of a social worker and a supervisor failing to follow policies and procedures available to them. My responsibility is to ensure all policies and procedures are followed within the context of our work."

    DCF was supposed to be checking in regularly with the boy and his family, but it turns out he hasn't been seen in months and the last time DCF saw him was on May 29.

    It wasn't until his 7-year-old sister came forward that anybody knew Jeremiah was missing.

    Now his mother and her boyfriend are facing charges in his disappearance.

    The social worker and her supervisor have since been fired for what the DCF commissioner calls ignoring red flags and not following policies and procedures.

    But we wondered, is the problem here with the system, rather than just two people? Roche believes the right two people were let go.

    The union representing the social worker and supervisor, SEIU local 509, tells us "she needs to take responsibility for this."

    Spokesman Jason Stephany called it finger pointing, and points to a memorandum signed by Commissioner Roche in July, promising to lower cases per social worker to 15, but says some social workers still have as many as 30.

    They complain social workers are overburdened, and they don't believe DCF completed a fair investigation.

    Roche says there was in fact a thorough review.

    Governor Patrick is just back from his trip to Asia. He spoke on this just a short time ago.

    He said there's no excuse for the social worker failing to make regular monthly visits, he's sympathetic to the caseload, but added, it's his understanding that this social worker's caseload was below the level that was agreed upon in that July memorandum.

    He stands by the commissioner's action and adds the child advocate's investigation will be independent.

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