After the highly publicized death of Bella Bond, the Governor of Massachusetts has announced major reforms to the state’s child protection laws. Bella was only two years old before her life ended, with the killer sentenced to life for second degree murder, while her mother gets a trial later this year. To ensure this doesn’t happen again, the office of Massachusetts will prioritize child safety over keeping families together.
“Keep children safe, first and foremost. And then, if that can be done by strengthening a family, great. If it can’t, no,” DCF Commissioner Linda Spears said at a news conference covered by CNN. It’s a move that has received praise from the head of the union representing social workers, since the DCF had only done “quick fixes” before.
“Systemic policy reforms are necessary to support the efforts of our social workers, supervisors and managers who are on the front lines protecting the Commonwealth’s children,” Charlie Baker, the aforementioned Governor of Massachusetts later stated. “Reducing caseloads, retaining and recruiting social workers and ensuring clear and concise policies for supervision and case management are all necessary to ensuring the agency is able to focus on its primary duty of keeping children safe.”
Reforms include rehiring social work technicians, most of whom were let go in 2009 due to budget cuts. These social work technicians perform support services, like driving children to their needed appointments and back. Apparently, this frees up time for social workers to focus on these child cases, which is a good thing all around.
The DCF will also update its intake policy for the first time in 12 years, covering when allegations of abuse and neglect happen, to opening new cases. It’s a much needed update that social workers are celebrating, though Baker said it might not happen overnight. Bella Bond’s case isn’t the first and it won’t be the last, so these new changes will hopefully lead to a better future.
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