Children In Crisis: Child Welfare In The Ocean State

Stories about children that experience abuse and neglect, and the agency responsible for protecting them.


Two private foundations announced Thursday donations totaling $95,000 to support Rhode Island’s efforts to expand the state’s foster care system.

RIPR File Photo

Foster children age out of the system in Rhode Island as soon as they turn 18. But advocates say that’s too young. Those advocates are pushing state lawmakers to extend foster care.

A decade ago young people were allowed to stay under the care of the state until age 21. But in 2007 the state reduced the age to 18.


The head of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families testified before state lawmakers Monday. This comes after the deaths of several children under state supervision.

In the last several months there have been four infant deaths and two near fatalities of children known to state DCYF. Following that, the state office of the Child Advocate issued a report outlining steps DCYF should take to keep children safer.

Rhode Island Kids Count

The most comprehensive collection of statistics about the health and well-being of Rhode Island’s children comes out today from Rhode Island Kids Count. Overall,kids have made some promising gains in health and education, but the agency says progress is still needed on several fronts.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island lawmakers are asking the head of Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families how she plans to address a scathing report about the deaths of several children involved with the agency. The Senate Committees on Health and Human Services and Finance want to know exactly what steps DCYF will take to implement the report’s recommendations.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Four infants known to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families died over the past few months. A new report from the Office of the Child Advocate says DCYF missed opportunities to prevent those deaths. 

Your Weekly Briefing: Health In Rhode Island, March 28

Mar 28, 2017
Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

What’s happening in your health in Rhode Island, March 28:

GOP HEALTH CARE PLAN: Rhode Island health officials are breathing a sigh of relief over the failure of the GOP plan to replace Obamacare. At stake was hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid funding, which meant the possible reduction in eligibility for the program or cuts to provider payments.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

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.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families has a new director. Doctor Trista Piccola has been chosen to lead the social service agency. Governor Gina Raimondo plans to submit her name to the Rhode Island Senate today for their consent. A statement from the governor’s office says Piccola has more than 20 years of experience in child welfare. She began her career as a Protective Services Case Manager in Ohio, and was most recently head of child welfare services for Cleveland.

Your Weekly Briefing: Health In Rhode Island, Dec. 6

Dec 6, 2016
Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Here’s what’s happening in health in Rhode Island, Dec. 6:

THUNDERMIST CEO: Thundermist Health Center President and CEO Chuck Jones is stepping down in February. Jones joined Thundermist in 2008. He moves on to be CEO of Harbor Health Services in Dorchester, MA. Thundermist will conduct a nationwide search for his replacement.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State lawmakers continue their oversight of the state's child welfare agency.  At a hearing Tuesday night, Department of Children, Youth, and Families director Jamia McDonald said her organization has made progress.