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It will take political will and money to provide safeguards for children

RE “CHILD agency gets a change at the top” (Page A1, April 30): It is time to revisit the reforms that the watchdog group Children’s Rights has advocated to transform a system that has been lacking for years. There is no one solution, and that includes Tuesday’s resignation of Olga Roche as commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families. The appointment of an interim commissioner who has been at the agency for less than a month, and formerly was chief of staff at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, is worrisome.

Pointing fingers at various agencies, politicians, and departments won’t help either. Struggling caseworkers need real resources and tools to help the children who come to them for protection and care.

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This will take money to increase staff to reduce caseloads and an array of services at the ready to appropriately intervene. We cannot continue to pretend that a child’s or family’s needs are not as significant as they truly are because services are unavailable. This will take the political will of the Legislature and other elected officials to ensure adequate appropriations in mental health, substance abuse treatment, and domestic violence intervention .

These children don’t vote, and they don’t have parents who are willing or able to advocate for them. Some are seen by overwhelmed caseworkers. Others have trained volunteer child advocates who speak for their best interests, but there are not enough volunteers to meet the growing need.

We are at a crossroads that could be not just transformative but lifesaving. These past months have grabbed the attention of the press and public to focus on a situation that has existed for years. It is encouraging that the Legislature is moving to address these issues. These children don’t have time to wait.

Jane Lyons

Executive director

Jo-Anne Vanin

Board chairwoman

Friends of Children

Hadley

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