Advocacy key for parents in need and kids in peril
In DCF case, there was a glaring need for a parent advocate
Re “The call from DCF: ‘We have your children’ ” (Page A1, Feb. 10): Jenna Russell’s article about a woman’s loss of her children was sad and frustrating. Granted, the Department of Children and Families has been overloaded with cases and is doing its best to ensure the safety of the children in the state. In addition, the mother may have lapsed in following the rules and conditions placed on her in order to get her children back. However, the article shows a glaring need for more parent advocates.
This was a case where the parent had her own issues with domestic violence as well as a disability. She attended the classes required of her as well as counseling. But was a mentor or advocate assigned to help her follow through with all the requirements? A dedicated and consistent advocate in her life may have been able to assist her in understanding the consequences of not following through, educate her on the consequences of having more children, or empower her not to return to the abusive father of the children. It is human nature to return to what we already know if we have not learned other options are attainable. Thus, the cycle does not get broken.
With no margin for error, children’s safety must be first priority
Jenna Russell’s article sheds light on one aspect of the Massachusetts child protection system: the plight of parents. But I don’t believe it fully conveys the magnitude of responsibility that applies to the system in its mission to protect the safety of children.
Department of Children and Families workers and judges face harrowing decisions to determine how to keep children safe, including whether to remove them from their homes. There is no margin for error in these decisions. When doubt lingers over the likelihood of further abuse, DCF and the courts must prioritize the safety of the children over the desires of the parents.
Boston CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a local nonprofit, recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers who advocate for the best interests of children, inside and outside the courtroom. We will provide CASAs to 300 children this year. There are hundreds more who need someone watching over them.
We will continue to challenge the child protection system to do better on behalf of our community’s most vulnerable children. However, we stand with our child protection partners in that we understand the gravity of the work they do each and every day.