Furor over DCF chief overlooks lapses in public policy

For those who want to pin blame on failings in the foster care system in Massachusetts, the signs were there for all to see, and they do not necessarily involve the current, past, or future commissioners of the Department of Children and Families. The fault lies as much with the citizenry of the Commonwealth and the representatives they elect.

Understanding how we arrived here could help us to move forward and create the type of future that we want for our children. But delivering that message has never been easy.

In 2006 the Home for Little Wanderers and the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center issued the report “Kids, Cuts, and Consequences: How Cuts to Effective Programs Hurt Our Children,” which showed how children’s well-being is tied to public policy and that cuts to programs have alarming consequences.


The DCF line item for foster care services in the proposed 2015 state budget, for example, is 3 percent less than it was in 2006. The very state representative, Ryan Fattman of Webster, who recently circulated a letter calling for the resignation of DCF Commissioner Olga Roche voted in April against the state budget in its entirety and in opposition to funding for social services, including DCF, in particular.

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Child welfare is a complex field. Yet whenever someone “discovers” that something is “newly” amiss in our system, a hue and cry ensues that almost always includes a call for someone to be fired. If only those crying the loudest looked into the root causes, or at least the mirror.

Joan Wallace-Benjamin

President and CEO

The Home for Little Wanderers