NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 14, 2014

Our view: Governor delays on crucial review of child services

(Continued)

“The situation cries out for truth-telling, self-examination and possibly self-criticism. It’s becoming harder to suppose we’re dealing with just a few bad apples rather than a systemic problem,” Barrett said in a statement reported by the State House News Service. “During hard times, have all the key decision-makers protected DCF’s capacity to do its job?”

Patrick has been under mounting pressure for an independent investigation of the DCF and last week he announced that a review will be conducted by the Child Welfare League of America, an organization that advocates for children nationwide.

But Patrick’s instincts were also on display as he repeatedly defended the agency, even as the boy remains missing.

“You know, this is not a job for amateurs, right. There are procedures that are in common with, that do or don’t reflect best practices around the country. There are judgment calls that social workers have to make every day, and most of them widely successful and not reported on, that happen daily,” Patrick told a group of reporters, as the news service reported. “But when something goes wrong, particularly in the life of a child, it is deeply concerning to me and to the general public. And so what we’ve been talking about is whether there isn’t some group or agency that is knowledgeable and has some real gravitas and experience in this area that might help us bring a fresh set of eyes. That is what we are trying to sort out.”

Patrick’s statements and the time he took to call for an independent investigation are telling. They reveal a governor whose instincts are, when trouble strikes, to rally around the bureaucracy and fend off tough questions, rather than demand the answers that will hold public servants accountable and possibly avert future tragedies.

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