, Salem, MA


March 28, 2014

Our view: Patrick's pique won't cure what ails DCF


Twenty-four members of the state House of Representatives, and Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate for governor, have called for the resignation of DCF Commissioner Olga Roche and a top-down shake-up of DCF management..

Patrick has stood by Roche, much as Dukakis stood by his embattled correction commissioner in the aftermath of the Willie Horton furlough scandal.

Yesterday, state auditor Suzanne Bump released a report that suggested perhaps Patrick is the one who is looking for “simple answers ... short and quick answers” — like throwing more money at the DCF problems — rather than “complicated and difficult” solutions.

Bump’s report said “significant management deficiencies” led to poor oversight of foster homes and the treatment of children in state custody. In Salem, a 3-year-old under DCF supervision was found to be living in the same building with a Level 3 sex offender who had been convicted of child rape.

“DCF does indeed work miracles on a daily basis,” Bump said at a press conference, according to the State House News Service. “It is, however, an agency whose frontline workers and managers need better guidance” and tools to do their jobs.

We don’t disagree. Most social workers really do strive to work miracles in the face of long odds, and they need more support.

But Patrick’s denial of clear management problems does not help.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester had it right when he said Bump’s audit “reconfirms the risks posed to vulnerable children” because of problems with the management of the Department of Children and Families.

“Now, more than ever, it is clear that reforming this agency needs to be a priority for the Legislature and the administration, and the job needs to be done in a timely and effective way,” Tarr said.

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