• Rep. David Linsky: 'There's a problem of accountability' at DCF


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- It could be another rocky month for the Department of Children and Families. The department is already plagued by its failure to handle the case of a now missing 5-year-old Fitchburg boy.

    The Chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight says an investigation into what went wrong at DCF is set to start as early as the second week in January. Chairman of the committee and State Representative David Linsky told Fox 25 Political Reporter Sharman Sacchetti that he wants to look at whether "DCF is competent." He also said that there are a lot of questions about protocol and accountability.

    Linsky said that he found the whole situation at DCF "inexcusable" and he added that "there's a problem of accountability throughout the executive branch at this point."

    This mess is just the latest by the state's "health and human services agency," Linsky said. He pointed out Annie Dookhan and the state drug lab scandal, the compounding pharmacy mess that led to the meningitis outbreak, and problems in the department of transitional services, which was found to have given welfare benefits to dead people.

    Linsky said that this will be the fourth time a health and human services agency has had to appear before his committee for oversight hearings since 2012, and he wants to know why they haven't been good at executing "basic government functions."

    So far DCF has fired three workers and suspended a fourth, after it came to light that 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver was missing. The boy's mother and her boyfriend are charged in the case. Authorities fear the boy could be dead.

    DCF has found the social worker hadn't checked on Oliver in months, and then recommended as late as November that his case be released from state oversight. It found abuse reports hadn't been thoroughly investigated, that false information was written into reports, and that the social worker was actually given a five percent raise weeks before she was fired.

    The Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, chaired by Representative Kay Khan, will also take part in the hearings.

    Khan said she has questions about DCF protocol and checks and balances.

    "It certainly seems to be in this particular instance that there were definitely some deficiencies here and difficulties and we don't know why that was or what really happened, but I think, could it be a symptom of a bigger problem or not?" Khan said.

    Committees can make recommendations, mandate changes, but perhaps most importantly, they are lawmakers who ultimately control the purse strings. Lawmakers made sure DCF got $20 million dollars more in 2013, than in past years.

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