SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 19, 2014

Our view: DCF chief must go

When the deliberate acts or negligence of parents cause something bad to happen to a child, we hold those parents responsible.

So it is that Elsa Oliver and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra Jr., stand accused of child endangerment, abuse and other charges as a result of the disappearance of Oliver’s 5-year-old son, Jeremiah.

The Fitchburg boy hasn’t been seen since September and is feared dead. His mother told his day care center that Jeremiah had gone to Florida.

Oliver and Sierra have pleaded innocent; Oliver is held on $100,000 bail and Sierra without bail.

They’re being held accountable for the boy’s disappearance.

So, how is it that Olga Roche, the head of the state agency responsible for looking out for the best interests of Jeremiah Oliver, is not being held accountable, too?

Roche’s agency, the Department of Children and Families, took responsibility for supervising the family after reports of abuse.

Yet, it went months without checking on the well-being of Jeremiah, ignoring multiple warning signs that he was in trouble. Now he’s gone. Other failures to protect children have since turned up.

Three lower-level DCF employees have been fired and a fourth disciplined.

But their boss, Olga Roche, and her boss, Gov. Deval Patrick, refuse to accept any responsibility for what happened to Jeremiah on their watch.

In fact, Patrick has come to the defense of Roche.

Last week, two dozen legislators sent a letter to Patrick calling for the resignation of Roche.

We only wonder where were the other 176 members of the House and Senate. The letter was co-authored by state Rep. Leah Cole, a Republican from Peabody, Other Essex County signatories included state Reps. Brad Jones, R-North Reading, and James Lyons, R-Andover.

Patrick, as is his habit, was more concerned about the sensitivities of his bureaucrats and cronies than about the children he and his agencies are charged with protecting.

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