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letters | mass. fights back agasint foster-care lawsuit

Agency should be redressing wrongs, not mounting defenses

In the Jan. 28 editorial “Mass. should defend itself against foster-care lawsuit” you conclude that Massachusetts’ decision to defend the lawsuit against it filed by the watchdog group Children’s Rights was a “principled position” and the right one. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter how difficult the job of the Department of Children and Families is, and no matter that it is criticized as being both too loose or too severe, the plaintiff’s assertion that the Commonwealth ranks ninth-worst among all the states in how it treats children in foster care should be taken seriously.

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As a former public defender who represented indigent juveniles and their families in delinquency and care and protection cases, and as a human service worker and licensed social worker who counseled many of these families, I know that the problems with the system are major.

The Commonwealth’s decision several years ago to change the name of the Department of Social Services to Department of Children and Families is nothing more than window dressing. But it really represents how little has changed in the handling of foster children.

You write that the department’s commissioner is eager to tell the agency’s “side of the story to a federal judge.” But he can share his story with the media and the public if he is looking for approval or sympathy.

This case should be settled, and soon.

Tyler Fox

Cambridge

The writer is a civil rights attorney.

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