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Massachusetts CPS News Archive
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Massachusetts News Coverage
Justina Pelletier: Child Protective Services and Medical Child Abuse
Is medical child abuse essentially different than physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect? The case of Justina Pelletier, a teenager with a mysterious medical history who was hospitalized and subsequently placed in protective custody.
The doctors at Boston Children's Hospital rejected her existing diagnosis, and diagnosed her as having a psychosomatic illness instead - that's an illness in which symptoms come from your mind, rather than an underlying disease process. The Department of Children and Family became involved when the parents disagreed with the new diagnosis. Justina spent nearly a year in a state psychiatric hospital, then went to a group home before being returned to her family.
May 22, 2017
Radically decentralize DCF's responsibilities
THE MASSACHUSETTS ORGANIZATION responsible for running the state's child welfare system has had four different names over a period of 40 years, which is not a sign of success.
Each change was prompted by widespread concern with the way the agency did its work. Extensive media coverage of terrible incidents involving vulnerable children despoiled the organization's reputation to the point where a name change seemed a necessary part of any rehabilitation.
April 11, 2016
Pressures mounted to end Justina Pelletier custody fight
Justina Pelletier returned to her family's Connecticut home Wednesday. How she got there after spending 16 months in protective custody in Massachusetts is a story enmeshed in political, legal, and financial factors.
Much changed in the past month, however. Conn. teen receives warm welcome Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Johnston, at the request of DCF, restored custody to the parents Tuesday, ending the case that the child welfare agency had brought against the parents, whom officials had accused of medical child abuse. On Wednesday, Justina returned to her family's home in West Hartford, Conn., cradled in her father's arms.
June 19, 2014
Justina Pelletier's legal nightmare should frighten all parents
A Massachusetts judge ordered that 16-year-old Justina Pelletier be returned to her Connecticut family. His ruling ended a 15-month odyssey that showed that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Boston Children's Hospital were willing to "kidnap" her.
Let's reduce that story to its basic truth: Boston Children's Hospital and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts refused to return a child to her family because they believed she should be treated as mentally ill, not physically ill, even though doctors at an esteemed Boston teaching hospital (NEMC) disagreed and her parents wanted to have the NEMC doctors keep treating her. And, guess what?
June 17, 2014
DCF Inadequately Preparing Child Welfare Workers
DCF is under fire following the deaths of multiple children. Emily M. Douglas says the system is not adequately preparing its employees, and without proper training, more kids will meet the same fate.
With the ongoing crisis of abuse and neglect-related deaths in the commonwealth, it's a miserable time to be a child welfare worker in Massachusetts. Truth is, it's rarely a good time, anywhere. Several other states are in the middle of full-blown child welfare crises; nationwide, 30 to 50 percent of all children who die from maltreatment were previously known to child protective services.
May 17, 2014
The Choice to Homeschool
This is the time of year when parents all over are questioning their childrens education for the following year, particularly if their child is entering preschool or kindergarten.
It was August and our son was due to enter Kindergarten the next month. Based on his height, social skills and cognitive level, we were concerned. We met with the school and were told unequivocally that they could educate any child, no matter what the circumstances in the grade they should be in based on their age. Just so happened, we were attending a church with a pretty good size of families who were homeschooling their children; The Cape Cod Bible Alliance, if it is important to know.
March 17, 2014
DCF Placing More Children In Foster Care Following Scrutiny
The controversy plaguing the state child protection agency seems to be unfolding everyday. In response, DCF has made changes to several of its policies.
Gail Huff tells us, there's been a spike in the number of children removed from their homes and placed in foster care.
February 10, 2014
State welfare officials file fewer protection orders to remove children from troubled homes
The number of Massachusetts children removed from their homes for abuse or neglect has fallen sharply in recent years, even as reports of child abuse or neglect have climbed, government figures show.
State social workers are filing 30 percent fewer court petitions to remove children from their homes than they did five years ago, and the number of children removed from their homes has fallen by 20 percent. During the same period, reports of child abuse and neglect have increased by about 6 percent.
August 12, 2013
Mass. Plans Commercial Food Waste Ban
Starting in July 2014, when customers eat at a restaurant in Massachusetts, wasted food will not head for the trash, but will be converted into energy via anaerobic digesters, according to plans proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick's administration.
The commercial food waste ban will help the state reduce the volume it sends to landfill and will be in effect for any organization that sends a minimum of 1 ton of organic food waste per week. Under the new rules, such companies will be required to donate or re-purpose the food. Food waste and organics make up 20 percent to 25 percent of the current waste stream going to landfills and incinerators, Massachusetts says.
July 13, 2013
Sevierville's Hood finished Boston Marathon hour before blasts
Dr. John Hood had finished his eighth Boston Marathon and retrieved his complimentary bag in which his clothes and cellular telephone were stashed before the race began. He was about two blocks away when he heard the first bomb go off.
The chaos has begun, and it was so wild that Hood and most of the other racers and spectators didn't know nearly as much as the TV watchers did. They heard rumors that it was a gas leak or a pipe bomb. That didn't lessen the feelings of anxiety among those, like Hood, who lacked information.
April 17, 2013
Local organic food coop has openings
Marblehead - Farm Direct Coop is accepting new members for the 2013 season at its pick-up locations in Marblehead, Salem and Melrose.
Working with local farmers for over 20 years, Farm Direct Coop brings just-picked organic and sustainable produce to members on a weekly basis. Through longstanding relationships with a variety of growers, the organization is able to bring top-quality veggies and fruits, from tender arugula, lettuce and those first luscious strawberries of June; to ripe watermelons and sweet summer corn; right on to fall's freshest apples and butternut squash.
March 20, 2013
Ex-foster child testifies in Mass. class action
BOSTON (AP) - Beginning at age 8, Lauren James bounced among at least 14 different foster homes, along the way being forced to scrub floors, clean up after dogs, miss meals and take up to five psychiatric mediations at a time.
The federal class-action lawsuit was filed in 2010 by Children's Rights, a New York-based child advocacy group that alleges that thousands of children in state foster care are being abused and neglected. The group claims the state Department of Children and Families has violated the constitutional rights of children by placing them in unstable and sometimes dangerous situations. James described a turbulent childhood marked by the death of her father just before her 6th birthday and her mother's suicide when she was 12. She said she was shuttled between foster homes and sent to live with her mother between ages 8 and 11. Then, after her mother died, she hopped from foster home to foster home.
January 22, 2013
Voters in Six States Approve Measures Nullifying Federal Acts
Of those 72 hours of election coverage not one minute was devoted to reporting the results of several ballot initiatives nullifying unconstitutional acts of Congress.
Massachusetts: A substantial majority of voters (64 percent) in the Bay State voted in favor of a law "eliminating state criminal and civil penalties related to the medical use of marijuana, allowing patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use."
November 8, 2012
New Reports Show Massachusetts Failing to Protect Children in Foster Care
A massive review of Massachusetts foster care shows that nearly one in five children who have been in state care for at least two years have suffered confirmed abuse or neglect - all while in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families.
A report that reviewed case files of more than 480 children shows that DCF is failing to meet its own policies and performance targets. The findings are consistent with federal studies that rank Massachusetts among the bottom 10 child welfare systems in the United States when it comes to ensuring children are safe in foster care and have stable placements.
October 18, 2012
Teen Sentenced to Prison for Texting-While-Driving Death
Massachusetts teenager was sentenced this week to two years in prison and loss of his license for 15 years after being convicted of motor vehicle homicide.
Aaron Deveau, 18, is the first driver in the state to face such charges. On February 20, 2011, Deveau was driving and his vehicle swerved across the center line, crashing head on into Daniel Bowley's truck, causing life-ending injuries.
October 15, 2012
Homeschooling and Child Custody: When Parents Disagree
Divorce is ugly. Two people sever the emotional and physical ties that held them together in the most intimate of bonds. Their kids are left confused and angry. Some parents might even use their children as pawns to spite a former spouse.
Family courts intrude, dividing property and custody rights. In paternity or child custody hearings, parents who never married experience similar ordeals. But what happens when these "non-couples" disagree about homeschooling? Some, like Brenda Kurowski, learn the hard way that family courts can step in and force their children to enroll in public school.
July 12, 2012
Shawndell Watts of West Springfield gets 3-to-4 years for burning hand
SPRINGFIELD - A nationally recognized expert on child abuse testified at trial about the extreme pain 5-month-old Imani Watts would have felt from a second degree hand burn, broken ribs and a subdural hematoma left unattended for weeks.
Now Shawndell Watts, 34, the girl's father, is going to state prison for three to four years for causing those injuries in 2008 in West Springfield. Dr. Christine Barron, clinical director of the Child Protection Program at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, R.I., and an expert in child abuse injuries, said the nature of the burn showed the baby's hand was forcefully immersed in hot liquid up to the wrist.
May 31, 2012
3 siblings, foster mother now officially a family
Susan Frank officially adopted three sibling boys that have been in her care for the last two years. Frank has five adopted children, a biological daughter, and is a guardian to two other children. They range in age from 11 to 28.
The boys' biological mother lost custody years ago. Their father, who lives outside the United States, calls them often and gave his blessing for the adoption. "It made things very easy," Frank said. Frank, a construction worker who focuses on interiors, has been a foster mother to more than 100 children in the past two decades.
March 23, 2012
Homeschooling offers new kinds of classrooms
Billerica, Mass. -- Homeschooled children do not always stay home. As part of their learning experience, they participate in classes and activities at dance schools, karate centers, museums and other such places.
Jen Croce and Amber Moody, co-founders of the Billerica Homeschool Association, have for months been arranging trips to museums and classes at local businesses, to expand upon each homeschool parent's curriculum and to give the students an important social opportunity.
November 25, 2011
Weather brings realism to homeless exercise
Three weeks ago, Kristin Lecky and her 4-year-old son were living in their car in Lawrence, Mass. Yesterday she was helping volunteers collect food, clothes, toiletries and school supplies for homeless Spotsylvania County students and their families.
Spotsylvania schools social worker Michelle Patton hopes yesterday's donations will make a lot of the 325 homeless students in the county happier. She and a few other school officials devised the Knock Out Homelessness event just three weeks ago. In that short time, they put together a 24-hour schedule of speakers, bands, food, children's activities and an overnight camp-out. It all happened in the Walmart shopping center parking lot at Massaponax. Or some of it happened, anyway. The bulk of the mission-collecting needed items-went off without a hitch. Volunteers greeted Walmart shoppers with a short list of general essentials including socks, underwear, canned food and laundry detergent.
October 29, 2011
Judge awards $3M in Boston priest abuse case
A Massachusetts judge on Friday awarded a total of $3 million to two child sex abuse victims of a former Franciscan priest who served prison time for child molestation in a separate case.
Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders entered the judgment against John Dority, awarding one victim $2 million and the other $1 million. Both were abused in Boston between 1965 and 1971, starting when they were ages 10 and 13. Dority, 70, was convicted of child molestation in Rhode Island in 2005 and released from prison in 2007.
October 21, 2011
Virtual school in the works in Framingham
A proposed virtual school in Framingham would make the town among the first in the state to embrace the new online learning trend.
Torres yesterday said he had not yet received that list of criteria, and so far has no timetable for the school. But he said he is confident his academy, which will cater to struggling students and those unable to attend a physical classroom, is part of the wave of the future. "We are seeing a trend in life, not just in education, where the way we do things is being built more toward an online world," he said.
October 4, 2011
Julianne McCrery questioned about death of son
CONCORD, Mass. -- The mother of the boy found dead in Maine was questioned by Massachusetts and Maine State Police on Wednesday. WHDH-TV in Boston is reporting she has confessed to killing her son.
Julianne McCrery, who is from Irving, Texas, reportedly cooperated with Massachusetts State Police as she was interviewed at the Concord barracks. She has not been charged. The Maine Department of Public Safety and the Maine Attorney General's Office say they have positively identified the boy. The name of the little boy has been reported as Camden Pierce Hughes.
May 18, 2011
How do other states help children of domestic violence? - Omaha.com
Massachusetts became the first state to place domestic violence advocates in child welfare offices in 1990. The state made basic domestic violence training mandatory for new social workers.
Michigan added family reunification workers to provide intensive home-based services for four to six weeks. The state placed 18 workers in different shelters to work with abused women and help them develop safety plans. The long-term success rates, defined as families remaining intact at 12 months following their services, were 85 percent for those getting home-based services and 96 percent for those in shelters.
March 27, 2011
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A Criminal Defense Attorney's View of the Domestic Violence Industry - Checklist
If an argument between spouses was the benchmark for domestic violence, then almost every family in America would be defined as an abusive relationship. This governmental over-reaction and dragnet targeting of normal families and treating them as criminals has led us to massive injustice across the nation.
June 24, 2012