This Time it Really is for the Children

katz2By: Jeff Katz – April, 2014

According to a recent poll, more than seventy percent of us believe that that DCF is broken. I’m assuming that the other thirty percent work for DCF.

Politicians routinely hoot and holler that something is “for the children.” They usually invoke that phrase when there is a piece of legislation written to benefit one of their favorite special interest concerns through the use of your hard earned tax dollars. In the case of fixing DCF, the good guys can employ the “for the children” call to action and actually find themselves telling the truth.

It is a sad commentary that over the past few weeks, DCF Commissioner Olga Roche’s most insightful and hopeful comment occurred when she was summoned to address a collection of her economic benefactors on Bacon Hill. You’ll recall that she puffed out her chest and proudly proclaimed that her agency had not “lost” any more children…well, at least since the last child they lost. Surely you remember little Jeremiah Oliver who was “lost” by DCF staff who did not bother to check on him and their supervisors who did not bother to check on those who did not bother to check on him.

Unlicensed staff. Uncaring attitude. Potential foster parents with big time criminal records. A regular cavalcade of high fives for DCF when you think about it. I’m sure that the question being debated behind the closed doors of the Corner Office is when to start the nationwide search for a new DCF commissioner. Oh, and probably a discussion about where on the payroll to place the old one, too.

Let’s be brutally honest for a second. Kids don’t wind up in the DCF system for any nice reasons. These are kids who have parents who have abandoned them or abused them. These children go hungry because their parents can’t be bothered feeding them. In other words, these kids are already getting a raw deal. This should be the place where people of every political stripe could come together and declare that somebody has to take care of these children.

I see statistics from around the nation showing that other agencies are also “losing” many of the children in their care. I see political leaders jumping in front of the microphones and cameras long enough to pontificate on this before they conveniently duck behind the curtain again having done nothing.

I implore them to do fix this problem. This time, it really, honestly is for the children.

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