Gov. Charlie Baker announced a set of new policies Tuesday for how the state Department of Children and Families responds to reports of abuse or neglect, a move aimed at shoring up an agency in turmoil.
The state is scrapping its two-tiered system for responding to reports of abuse or neglect. Those different levels of response were based on an initial assessment of a child’s risk.
DCF will now respond to all reports the same way, and workers are required to act in one business day — down from three days, previously. After a report is received, workers now must review caregivers' prior involvement with DCF and criminal, as well as 911 calls. That became an issue after the recent death of 2-year-old foster child Avalena Conway-Coxon, when police records showed numerous police calls from the foster home where she died. Baker says the new policies will help DCF manage its complex case load.
"The role and the work at DCF is probably as challenging as it’s ever been," Baker said. "But that’s the reason why there should be a playbook in place associated with most of these major elements of what the agency’s about and what it does."
The new policies also mandate additional supervision for social workers and clarify when those workers should seek help from managers in complex cases.