A new report from the state’s Child Advocate shows there was an increase last year in the number of abuse and neglect allegations, as well as the number of children in DCF care who died.

The report shows 40 kids who were getting services from the Department of Children and Families or other state agencies died last year. Also, 184 children in the custody of the DCF were the victims of credible allegations of mistreatment. That’s up from 29 deaths in the previous year. Child Advocate Gail Garinger says we don’t know for sure if that’s because there was a higher incidence of abuse and neglect, or if there was better reporting of it. She also says from March of 2013 to March 2014, DCF received more than 23 hundred reports of what are called substance-exposed newborns.

“Any newborn is fragile and vulnerable," says Garinger. "But these particular babies tend to be more difficult to manage. And if we’re dealing with families that have issues, they need all the support they can get, and at times, reluctantly, we need to admit that certain children may need, babies may need to be cared for outside of their homes.”

DCF took custody of the newborn in 490 of those cases.

This year’s report comes as the state investigates how the DCF handled the case of a two-year old Auburn girl who died in foster care earlier this month. Garinger says state officials and lawmakers have to ensure the agencies that serve children have sufficient resources to do their jobs.

Annual Report 2015