BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- House Speaker Robert Deleo is fuming over union complaints that the Department of Children and Families didn't get enough in funding in the wake of the scandal involving a missing 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who authorities fear may be dead. In fact, Deleo says this year, the agency received a whopping $20 million increase, a lot more than it has ever seen, at a time when money is tight.
"To turn this around and make it into a money issue, yes, infuriates me," Deleo told Fox 25 Political Reporter Sharman Sacchetti. "They had a budget of about 780 million dollars. They got an increase of 20-million dollars this past year. For the past three to four years, they've received increases."
He says lawmakers gave the agency the funding for increased personnel "to make sure they could meet that 18 to 1 ratio that they asked for." Now the speaker has asked two committees to investigate how Jeremiah Oliver was failed by the system. Nobody knows where he is, and authorities say he may be dead.
The social worker in charge of the child's case hadn't seen him since May. What's worse, she wanted to close out Oliver's case in November. It turns out, DCF says Oliver's social worker had 18-cases and wasn't making the required visits to eight of them.
"There's a 5-year-old child who is missing and God forbid has passed away," Deleo said. "Someone, somewhere, dropped the ball. I want to see how that ball was dropped and who should have been responsible in terms of oversight."
Oliver's mother and boyfriend are both charged in connection with his disappearance.
The governor said Friday that he received the DCF commissioner's preliminary report, and has "reason to believe" responsibility goes beyond the two who were fired, and the one who was reassigned. He stands by Commissioner Olga Roche. We wondered how high up accountability would go.
There is, after all, a history with commissioners appointed by this governor. Late last year, State Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach stepped down in the wake of the drug lab scandal. And this year, the Massachusetts Early Education Commissioner, Sherri Killins, who lived in New Haven, Conn., stepped down amid questions over her enrollment in a program that trains school superintendents.
They seem to find themselves surrounded by controversy. Sacchetti asked the governor is this speaks to a more systemic problem with the people he is appointing.
"They're doing a great job," Patrick said.
She then asked how the governor could say that.
"I just did," he replied.
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