• Roche resigns as commissioner of the Department of Children and Families

    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) -- The secretary of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that Olga Roche has resigned as commissioner of the Department of Children and Families.

    Secretary John Polanowicz announced he accepted Roche's resignation during a press conference Tuesday.

    "I agree the commissioner should step aside," said Gov. Deval Patrick at the press conference. "I do so with some sadness, but agree it's time."

    Gov. Patrick went on to say he thought the time for change is now and that he doesn't think it is right, but he thinks it is necessary.

    "Every time there is a turn in the events at DCF, it has focused automatically without there being a direct connection, or whether or not there was a direct connection between a failure and a fault, on the resignation of the commissioner and that makes it impossible for the agency to do the job that they have to do," said Gov. Patrick, who previously said his confidence in the department has been "rattled."

    Erin Deveney, who the governor said has been with DCF for 30 days, will serve as interim commissioner. Deveney served as the chief of staff at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles since 2009.

    The announcement comes one day after Polanowicz met with Roche and Gov. Patrick to discuss the recent deaths of two babies. The meeting was held amid renewed calls for Roche's resignation from some of the state's top lawmakers. House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray both called for Roche to step down.

    "As Speaker of the House, I think it is incumbent upon me to call upon commissioner of DCF Olga Roche to resign," DeLeo said at a news conference outside his State House office Monday.

    Citing a complete failure of management, DeLeo said it was high time that Roche stepped down, especially after the deaths of two babies in Fitchburg and Grafton.
    Authorities say the family of a 2-week old Fitchburg baby who died over the weekend was being monitored by state child welfare officials.
    In the second case, a DCF spokeswoman says a fax from Grafton police about possible harm to a 4-week-old who later died was misplaced for six days. A DCF spokesperson said police officers are required by law to verbally report allegations of suspected child abuse or neglect and a fax was not sufficient. The investigation has been classified as an unattended death.

    The body of a third child, 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg, was found off a highway this month. Jeremiah's family was also under DCF supervision. Three DCF employees were fired for their handling of the Oliver case.

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