The Office of the Child Advocate has reviewed the circumstances surrounding the deaths of four infants and the near deaths of two others over the past six months whose families were involved with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, or DCYF. The Advocate’s report finds the agency missed opportunities to prevent those deaths.
When a call comes in to the DCYF hotline about possible child abuse or neglect, Child Protective Services workers make a determination: follow up with a visit, or file the information away. The Office of the Child Advocate’s new report about the death of four infants known to DCYF finds reports about their being at risk were essentially filed away.
In one case, DCYF received five calls over six months about the abuse and neglect of an infant who later died. Only one report was follow up on, the report found, and the case was closed despite ongoing concerns. The Office of the Child Advocate found that of all the calls Child Protective Services classified as quote “information” or “referral” rather than requiring follow up – a fourth actually merited further investigation.
The child advocate recommends hiring more investigators, more social workers, and requiring a visit to a child’s home if there have been three or more calls to the DCYF hotline about the child’s safety.