BOSTON - State legislators yesterday approved a bill that creates a powerful advocate for children in the governor's office and establishes other changes to provide early detection and prevention of child abuse.
Rep. Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera, D-Springfield, said the abuse case of Haleigh Poutre of Westfield, now 14, horrified people and motivated legislators to approve the legislation to protect children in the custody of the state. She was leading sponsor of the legislation.
The bill includes measures aimed at improving the state's response to reports of child abuse and neglect.
Under the bill, if there are three or more reports of suspected neglect or abuse against a child, the state would need to notify local police and the district attorney.
The bill creates an Office of Child Advocate under the governor. The office would be independent of state agencies and could launch its own investigations of serious injuries to children in state custody.
Haleigh's case sparked criticism that the state Department of Social Services failed to adequately protect her. Starting in 2001, the department received about 20 complaints of abuse and neglect of the girl, but the agency never attempted to remove her from her adoptive home. The agency's then-commissioner said that medical professionals determined her injuries were self-inflicted.........
We won't be able to rail at DSS anymore. They are changing their name, too. Doesn't DCF just sound better, less mean, more friendly?
BOSTON— The Legislature yesterday adopted broad changes in child abuse laws and prevention measures, beefing up police and social worker intervention programs, requiring closer monitoring of child abuse cases and more certain investigation requirements in cases of injured children.
Perhaps the largest change calls for the establishment of a powerful new Office of the Child Advocate in the governor’s office, independent of the state Department of Social Services, whose name is being changed by the bill to the Department of Children and Families..............