It’s a lot easier to call for the resignation of child welfare commissioner Olga Roche — as House Speaker Robert DeLeo has done — than to find a competent replacement for her on short notice. Clearly the Department of Children and Families is in great need of new leadership following the recent deaths of three children of age 5 or less who were either under the agency’s care or should have been. But simply parroting calls for her resignation won’t solve the problem of sloppy supervision that can lead to dead or injured children.
If Roche steps down, Governor Patrick will have little choice but to replace her with another mid-level bureaucrat within the foundering agency. That won’t help. The agency won’t be transformed until the next governor enters office with the determination to bring in a first rate leader capable of creating lasting change.
If DeLeo or any other legislator knows of an exceptional social services leader — perhaps retired — who can limit the damage at DCF until the end of the year, then Roche should go immediately. If not, the underlying problems at the agency won’t change no matter how loudly DeLeo and other politicians call for Roche’s head.Lawrence Harmon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org