NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 30, 2014

Our view: Commissioner's resignation came too late

It took far too long for this to happen, but finally, the head of the long-embattled Department of Children and Families has resigned.

In the wake of the deaths of two more children under the state agency’s care, Commissioner Olga Roche announced yesterday that she is leaving the post that she has held for one year — perhaps the worst year that any agency director could imagine.

In mid-September, 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver went missing from his home. His disappearance wasn’t reported until three months later. In the ensuing weeks a steady stream of information came to light demonstrating substantial, systematic failures on the part of DCF to monitor Jeremiah’s troubled and violent home life.

As head of the agency and a 30-year employee, Roche naturally came under fire for those failures. There were demands for her resignation, but standing in her corner was a powerful ally, Gov. Deval Patrick. In what has become a frequent pattern, Patrick approached the problem from the wrong side of the table. When faced with a crisis, it’s the agency, the bureaucracy and the establishment that Patrick predictably falls in step with. The man who ran eight years ago as the outsider with new ideas has become the insider who holds rigidly to the old establishment.

The mysterious disappearance of Jeremiah Oliver was finally solved two weeks ago, when his body was found dumped along a roadside. Now, with the deaths of two more children and more evidence of systematic failures by DCF, even Patrick admits that the agency is in need of new leadership and a new direction, though he still defends his foot-dragging on the matter.

“I believe that before we find fault there ought to be a fair opportunity to gather the facts and assess accountability, that there ought to be some direct connection between failure and fault. Unfortunately, DCF doesn’t operate in that kind of environment today,” Patrick said. He continued, “It’s clear from the events of this weekend that (Roche) can no longer command the trust of the public or the confidence of her line staff.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Serious Flash Flooding in Arizona Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS Damaging Winds Stop the Show! In the Cockpit of the Air Force's Elite Squadron Pathologist: Autopsy Shows Teen Repeatedly Shot Christina Aguilera Has a Baby Girl Marvel Fans: Watch Dancing Baby Groot Over and Over! Raw: Protesters, Police Clash in Ferguson Gov. Rick Perry responds to indictment Breaking: Officials release name of police officer in Ferguson shooting Man Shot As Protesters Defy Curfew in Ferguson Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez Back Together for Two ‘Secret’ Dates
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans