Governor Deval Patrick defended the head of the state’s child welfare department Thursday after the agency has come under sharp criticism for neglecting a troubled Fitchburg family, but he said the commissioner must determine whether other supervisors share responsibility for the failures.
Amid public outrage over the mishandling of the case, Patrick said he did not believe that Olga I. Roche, commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, should resign. But he said key questions remain on how social workers failed for several months to visit the home of missing 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver, despite reports of abuse.
“Her job right now is to get to the bottom of what happened,” Patrick told reporters on Thursday, according to a transcript provided by his office. “I’m not satisfied that we have done that yet. There are still some questions that I have, and more to the point that she has, about whether there are any patterns and whether the responsibility goes higher.”
DCF has already fired the social worker who had not made mandatory monthly visits to the family’s home, along with her supervisor.
On Thursday, officials reassigned an area program manager in the Leominster office, who had overseen the supervisor, for the duration of the investigation.
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