Massachusetts Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche.

Credit: Sarah Birnbaum / WGBH News

Can Technology Fix DCF?

March 13, 2014

A watchdog group hired to review Massachusetts’ troubled child welfare system is calling for better technology and increased staffing levels.

Billed as a major announcement, the preliminary report from the Child Welfare League of America contains few new recommendations. There were no findings on the case of the 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who went missing while he was under supervision of the state Department of Children and Families.

The report essentially reiterates what the administration of Gov. Deval Patrick has been calling for — more resources —since the boy’s disappearance.

“If we had the staffing in place, if we had the technology in place, would we have a better system? I think that’s absolutely the case," said Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz.

Polanowicz says the Department has already hired 90 new staff members, and the governor’s budget calls for up to 177 more. He also says the department will hand out 60 new tablet computers next week to on-call social workers so they can file reports from the field.

A final report from the Child Welfare League with more specific recommendations is expected in mid May.

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