Speaker DeLeo: DCF Is ‘Dysfunctional from Top to Bottom’
The Department of Children and Families continues to come under fire from prominent leaders in the aftermath of Bella Bond’s tragic death.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo blasted the agency while speaking at a Monday memorial for Bella, not far from where her lifeless body was found on Deer Island.
“How could you go there on two separate occasions the while knowing that this mother had already lost two other children? And how did this child have the misfortune to be told she had to stay with her mother?” asked DeLeo according to a report in the Boston Herald.
Between 2001 and 2006, DCF removed Bond’s two other children from her custody; one now lives with a foster family and another with her maternal grandmother.
DeLeo emphasized he did not want to blame specific employees at the agency, particularly social workers.
“What I’m saying is we have to take a look at the managerial skills of the folk who work at DCF, and we also have to take a look at the skills relative to the social workers,” DeLeo said.
While speaking with reporters on Tuesday, DeLeo went further and said he would like to see the agency reformed into a cabinet department where the head reports directly to the governor.
“I think DCF has some real major issues,” DeLeo said.
The speaker said he thinks the agency is structured in a way that no longer works.
“What I see here is an agency that appears to be dysfunctional from top to bottom, we need to take a look at how this agency operates,” DeLeo said.
A report released on Saturday by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found that 110 Massachusetts children died between 2009 and 2013 while in the care of DCF. The majority of the deaths occurred when children were still under the age of three. The review found that the number of children dying while in the care of DCF is gradually rising. In 2009, 14 children died while under the DCF’s watch, but in 2013, that number increased to 38.
DCF was involved with Bella for brief periods in 2012 and 2013 but eventually closed her case. DCF has not released the case files to the public or indicated why Bella’s case was closed by the embattled agency. The agency is currently reviewing her case.
According to reports, the two social workers tasked with working with Bond’s children still work for the agency.