In the wake of Jeremiah Oliver’s tragic disappearance, the state Department of Children and Families has been in the spotlight with urgent demands for reform (“Woes in child welfare agency run deeper than Oliver case,” Editorial, March 30). As an elementary school teacher in the Boston Public Schools who works with many children in the system, I urge the state to consider more than removing ineffective workers and developing new safeguards.
Health and human services primarily function in silos, even though families involved often use multiple services. Despite the best intentions, we cannot say that families in need are thriving. In the worst cases, children disappear or die. In most cases, families are supported but don’t reach their full potential. Children are the most vulnerable and least responsible; being a successful case should involve more than just surviving.
Instead of restructuring one social service agency each time a new tragedy strikes, policy makers and service leaders should consider ways to integrate services, collaborate across agencies, and use community organizing to shift the ways in which families experience health and human services. To eliminate gaps and reduce redundancies, we should consider Washington state’s model.
Our children are worth the effort of taking the time to reimagine how our system is structured, instead of just looking for quick repairs.