Report: DCF Failed To Save Hardwick Boy Now In Coma
BOSTON (AP) — The Department of Children and Families failed to protect a 7-year-old boy who police say was beaten and starved by his father and who is now in a coma, according to a report released Friday.
The investigation, carried out by DCF's special case investigation unit, found that the department failed to pull together multiple abuse reports — an oversight that ultimately led to the failure to adequately safeguard Jack Loiselle.
Read: The Hardwick DCF Report
The report said the department did some things right, including carrying out appropriate visits, filing required reports and delivering extensive services to the parent and child.
But Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said no one involved with the child had a complete understanding of the situation until the report was released. The investigation found that the department wasn't looking at all the abuse reports taken together but was instead responding to each report individually.
"This is the first 360 look at this case," Baker said.
The department took custody of Jack on July 14 and brought him to a hospital after his father — Randall Lints of Hardwick — called 911 to say his son was unresponsive.
Jack remains in a coma in a long-term rehabilitation center. Baker described Jack's condition as "medically stable."
According to the report, Jack had bruising on his head, arm, back, spine and buttocks. He also had burns on the soles of his feet, appeared malnourished and weighed 38 pounds, well below average for his age.
The report includes a detailed chronology of more than 100 contacts between the department, other caregivers and the family from Sept. 15, 2014, until DCF took custody of him.
The report said no fewer than 16 DCF staff, eight other child health workers and other medical providers, teachers, school personnel, a guidance counselor and neuropsychologist were familiar with Jack and his father.
"An array of providers and systems were involved with Jack and his family. Rather than increasing safety, however, this fact may actually have diffused responsibility and decision-making," the report found.
Lints has pleaded not guilty to assault and child endangerment charges. He was ordered held on $200,000 cash bail. His attorney has said there may be blame to go around.
Baker also pointed to a portion of the report noting that Lints was never assessed for his parenting skills by DCF, the family court or any other service provider — despite the fact that as early as December 2014, Lints had expressed concern that he was not able to parent Jack, according to the report.
The report recommends an increased review of parental history and "the expectation for managerial review when there have been multiple reports concerning a child/family in a three or six month period."
Baker said firing those involved wouldn't solve the larger problem.
"The problem here is the policy. The easy thing to do would be to fire somebody over that," Baker told reporters. "The hard thing to do is to fix the policy and then to hold people accountable."
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