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A mother loses her children in a fraught state system

Below is an excerpt from a February 17 letter published by the Boston Globe. Susan R. Elsen of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute writes about the lack of services available to families involved in DCF matters.


Last Sunday’s front-page story of a woman’s losing battle to keep her six children was more heartbreaking because it may not have had to end that way (“The call from DCF: ‘We have your children’ ”). The state Department of Children and Families’ mission is to strengthen struggling families so that children can stay safely at home, but we are left wondering whether Cynthia (the Globe omitted her last name to protect the identities of her children) got the services she needed.

She is a disabled mother who loved her children but repeatedly returned to a dangerous man who offered what seemed like love. She saw the required therapist, but did she have the intensive in-home support DCF can offer? Was she offered DCF’s homemaker services before what seemed like the removal of her children for a messy house? Did she get reasonable accommodations for disabled parents, required under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Many parents in Cynthia’s position don’t get needed services because the Commonwealth doesn’t adequately fund them. Although 87 percent of the children in DCF’s caseload are there to get services to remain or return home, only 8 percent of DCF’s services budget goes to keeping families together.

Read more at the Boston Globe.