• Review: High case loads don't excuse failures in Oliver case


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- An independent investigation into the Department of Children and Families has concluded that "high weighted caseloads" do not explain or excuse the failures in the department's handling of a missing Fitchburg boy's case.

    The Office of the Child Advocate released their report into Jeremiah Oliver's disappearance and his family's involvement with the DCF Thursday.


    While OCA says high weighted caseloads at the North Central Area Office don't excuse failures in the Oliver case, they say caseloads in the offices likely "compounded the professional failures" of the social worker assigned to their case, her supervisor, and the Area Program Manager. They add that the high caseloads provide a "context rather than an excuse" for what they call "the repeated failures of the DCF employees."

    "During the course of our investigation we have tried to understand how a five-year-old boy could have disappeared during a time when his family was involved with DCF," read a statement from Child Advocate Gail Garinger. "Everyone at DCF agrees that the most basic obligation of frontline social workers is to ‘visit your children.'  This is the cornerstone of protective work but did not happen with Jeremiah Oliver."

    Gov. Deval Patrick requested the OCA conduct a review of DCF practices following Jeremiah Oliver's disappearance. Three DCF employees connected to the Oliver case were fired after it was learned the social worker assigned to his family's case had not seen him in months.

    OCA's report was released on the same day Beacon Hill lawmakers are set to begin hearings on the Department of Children and Families.

    Next Up: