New report says DCF not responsible for boy's death - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

New report says DCF not responsible for boy's death

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Jeremiah Oliver Jeremiah Oliver
BOSTON (WHDH) - It's been five weeks since the discovery of Jeremiah Oliver's body near a highway in Sterling. Now an extensive report by the Child Welfare League of America says there is no evidence his death is the Department of Children and Families' fault.

“They did not kill the child, we do not know who killed the child. The truth of the matter is we don’t have enough information to answer the question. We don't know what happened the day of the death, we don’t know what happened at the time of his death, we don’t know who was around,” Linda Spears of the CWLA said.

The report also says, in Jeremiah's case, some DCF staff did not do their jobs.

In December, DCF admitted it lost track of the Fitchburg 5-year old and had not visited him for several months.

“The department did not do everything right. The visitations that did not occur, the inaccuracies in the case record. DCF and numbers of others in the community failed to protect this family,” Spears said.

The report says DCF's problems are system-wide and Spears called their protocols “grossly out of date.”

Several recommendations were proposed, including updating inconsistent child protection practices and strengthening and supporting the DCF work force.

The Health and human services secretary says DCF is already implementing changes.

“Together we've invested in technology that will help our staff work more effectively and efficiently, together we’ve invested in new staff hiring with nearly 200 staff hired in this calendar year,” HHS Secretary John Polanowicz said.

Gov. Deval Patrick asked the legislature for more money for DCF in the latest budget, and they approved his request but for the time being officials say the department is underfunded.
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