H4905 clarifies what the new agency, DCF, is supposed to do. This post is the first in a series I intend to do on the changes in the law made by H4905.
For example, specific services to strengthen families are listed in Section 26, such as
(9) training in parenthood and home management for parents, foster parents, and prospective parents.
Would this service have sufficed to keep Haleigh with her biological mother?
In the old statute, DSS was only required to provide such services as it “deemed necessary”.
In the new statute, DCF is required to:
Section 3.(a) The department shall provide comprehensive, area based child welfare services. These services ahll be organized by reions and areas consistent with those established by the secretary of health and human services under section 16 of chapter 6A.(b) In order that the area-based services be adapted, organized and coordinated to meet the needs of certain population groups, the department shall provide programs for: (1) families and children which shall, among other objectives, serve to assist, strenthen and encourage family life for the care anhd protection of children, assist and encourage the use by any family of all available resources to this end, and provide substitute care of children only when preventive services have failed and the family itself, or the resources needed and provided to the family, cannot insure the integrity of the family and the necessary care and protection to guarantee the rights of any child to sound health and normal physical, mental spiritual and moral development;
Question: Does this section restore actual oversight to judges of the decisions about services made by DCF, which the Isaac and Jeremy cases removed from DSS?
Question: Would the requirement added to G.L.c. 119 Sec. 51B of notification to the Commissioner and the District Attorney when more than three 51A reports are received have protected Haleigh Poutre [see page 14 of H4905, which is Section 32 (n)]
Unfortunately, however, the new legislation does NOT open hearings seeking to “not resusitate or withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment” for children in the custody of DCF, just as these hearings were closed under DSS. H 4191, as filed by Speaker DiMasi would have opened such hearings, which I believe would better protect Haleigh and children like her. See pages 60-61 of H4905, Section 38A.