Re “Harmony Montgomery case cries out for changes”: Your March 6 editorial demonstrates what has been wrong with the Commonwealth’s child welfare system for years: a rush toward reaction instead of informed and appropriate response to address the actual issues.
It appears that Governor Charlie Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders believe that additional oversight of the system is needed in response to the current Harmony Montgomery case; however, it is not clear how it was determined that a $50 million guardian ad litem program is the best approach to ensure the safety and well-being of children or, more basically, what problem it is solving.
The investigations of Harmony’s case by the state Supreme Judicial Court and the Office of the Child Advocate have not been released.
Your editorial indicates that guardians ad litem are used in one-third of care and protection cases. Has anyone examined the impact on those cases?
The Office of the Child Advocate recommended, in the David Almond investigation report in March 2021, that a guardian ad litem be appointed in care and protection cases prior to the transfer of custody. Has the Juvenile Court increased the use of guardians ad litem since then? What has the impact been?
How can we expand the guardian ad litem program without data and outcomes for the program that already exists?
It is great that the Commonwealth has $50 million to address issues in child welfare; we must demand that the right voices are at the table to ensure that the budget is appropriated to best meet the needs of children and young adults.
Let’s break the cycle of reaction to horrific public cases and develop a plan to improve this system for the thousands of children and families affected by it. We should not be simply putting a stamp of approval on a proposal that has not been appropriately evaluated.
Friends of Children Inc.