Seven years ago, after two tragedies, State House investigators identified a major flaw in the Massachusetts child-protection agency: It lacked medical expertise to help caseworkers sort out the complicated conditions affecting children under its watch. The findings led lawmakers to approve reforms, but today, very little has changed.
The position of physician medical director was funded by the Legislature but never filled by the agency. A plan to set up a standing panel of pediatric specialists to offer consultations on medically complex cases went unheeded by top state officials. To this day, if staffers within the agency need advice from medical experts, they are often left scrambling to find help on their own.