BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – When asked by Beacon Hill lawmakers last month if other children were in the same situation as missing 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver, DCF Commissioner Olga Roche said no, however, a spokesperson for the department released numbers Wednesday that contradict her answer.
As of Feb. 2, there are 134 youths under the age of 18 on the run in DCF's database, according to DCF Spokesperson Alec Loftus.
When asked why Roche didn't volunteer that information, Loftus said, "Yes, I talked with the commissioner about this, she would have readily provided any and all info on children on the run if asked directly as that's something DCF is always tracking and working on."
FOX 25 Reporter Sharman Sacchetti asked House Speaker Robert DeLeo what his first thoughts were when he heard this news.
DeLeo replied, "Here we go again."
He went on to say that the situation is "disconcerting" telling Sacchetti that the situation seems to be worsening as opposed to getting better.
When asked if it was time for Roche to resign, he said he wanted to wait for the process to be done.
"We've already acted in terms of providing additional funding to lower the case loads, but at the end of the day I can tell you I'm not going to be satisfied just with providing of money. I want answers in terms of what's going on at this agency because this can't continue," he said.
When DCF learns that a child is missing, they immediately file a missing person's report and work with law enforcement officials. They also contact the child's parents, attorney and anyone who may know where the child is, Loftus said.
The department provided the following breakdown of the ages to FOX 25:
• 13 years old -- 4
• 14 years old -- 10
• 15 years old -- 26
• 16 years old -- 40
• 17 years old – 54
Most of the youths on the run are between 16 and 17 years old, according to DCF spokesperson Alec Loftus.
"This is a difficult population and many of these teenagers are facing significant problems in their lives and decide to run away to stay with a friend for a few days or weeks," Loftus said.
Only a small percentage of the 36,000 youths in DCF care are in their direct custody. A lot of the youths that end up in DCF custody are "habitual runaways."
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