Below is an excerpt from a July 2 article published in The Boston Globe discussing the implications of a Department of Children and Families (DCF) policy on cases involving neglect allegations. Massachusetts Legal Reform Institute (MLRI) Child Welfare Policy Advocate Susan Elsen is quoted.
Massachusetts child welfare officials violated a mother’s constitutional rights when they denied her request for a hearing to challenge neglect allegations, a Suffolk Superior Court judge found, in a decision that could have implications for thousands of parents and caregivers investigated each year by the state.
The ruling, handed down in late May, has already prompted the Department of Children and Families to shift course. State officials said they are now offering those accused of neglect — but who, under a DCF policy, were not given the chance to appeal to an impartial hearing officer — the ability to request a so-called fair hearing. In the quasi-judicial settings, DCF’s decisions are just as likely to be overturned as upheld, state data show.
Attorneys in the case said the decision has the “potential to have a profound effect” on how DCF interacts with families going forward.
Read more at The Boston Globe.