Savage toll of abuse for children in DCF care

More than 95 have died since ’01, state reports say

Originally Published: The Boston Globe
By Jenifer McKim

Kadyn Hancock’s aunt said she repeatedly tried to warn state officials that the 13-month-old’s mother might hurt him. But no one heeded her pleas, and Kadyn’s mother killed her baby in 2010.

Last summer, child advocates questioned why social workers did not remove 3-month-old Chase Gideika from his troubled home before he was brutally killed, allegedly by his mother’s boyfriend.

Now the disappearance of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver — missing and feared dead after social workers allegedly failed to check on him for months — is once again raising alarms that the state is unable to protect some of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents.

Though Governor Deval Patrick last week described Oliver’s disappearance as a unique tragedy in which state officials failed to do their jobs, state records show that children under the watch of the Department of Children and Families actually die with alarming regularity.

Since 2001, more than 95 Massachusetts children whose cases were overseen by state social workers have died directly or indirectly because of abuse or neglect, according to state statistics. The death toll probably is considerably higher because state officials have not revealed how many died from 2011 to 2013.

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