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Mass. appeals court upholds ruling dismissing DCF lawsuit

A nonprofit’s effort to improve Massachusetts' struggling child welfare system hit another roadblock this week with an appeals court decision that closed the door on an effort to get the federal court to oversee reform. The court on Dec. 15 upheld a lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit filed against the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Chief Judge Sandra Lynch of the US First Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the 40-page decision that a district court judge – while pointing out major deficiencies in the child welfare system – was correct in dismissing the suit filed by the New York-based national advocacy organization, Children’s Rights.

Mass. state lawmaker urges action on elder abuse

A state lawmaker is urging Bay State officials to do more to help the growing number of exploited and abused elders in Massachusetts. Rep. James O’ Day, a Worcester Democrat and chair of the House Elder Affairs Committee, said colleagues should act on a recent state report that documented the rising risks to seniors, especially financial exploitation suffered by women who are 80 years old and older. The report, by the 19-member Elder Protective Services Commission, laid out a blueprint to help seniors, including better training of people who work with elders and an awareness campaign to educate the public about the potential for abuse. First on the list were recommendations to help elder caseworkers, not generally experts in financial services, to scout out financial abuse through the help of  “multidisciplinary teams,” including lawyers, financial specialists and lenders. The 31-page report also recommended an awareness campaign to educate the public, similar to campaigns revolving around domestic and sexual violence.

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Dozens of Mass. super donors exceed former federal spending cap

Unleashed by the April US Supreme Court decision striking down a cap on individual donations to federal candidates, 29 heavyweight Massachusetts donors have blown past previous limits during this election cycle, federal records show.


A letter to Putin from NECIR journalist detained by Russian authorities

Dear Mr. Putin, Was it really necessary to replay a scene from a tired, old cold war movie? I’m referring to Thursday morning when your government dispatched at least six of its immigration agents to disrupt an investigative reporting workshop that a colleague and I were conducting at a hotel in your hometown of St. Petersburg. Among our “subversive” topics: how to be fair and balanced, ethical and thorough, and how to use data to be more precise and accurate.

Number of children placed in Mass. foster care rises sharply

The number of troubled children in Massachusetts taken out of their homes and placed under state supervision rose steeply in the past year, according to a report released Sept. 11. The number of children placed in foster care grew by almost 1,000 – or 13 percent – between March 2013 and March, 2014, said the report by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Center for the Study of Social Policy.  There were 8,190 children in out-of-home care in March of 2014, according to the report. Meanwhile, caseloads for social workers are “unacceptably high,” notes the report. The number of staff supervising more than 20 youths ballooned more than five-fold from 187 workers statewide in July 2013 to 1,054 workers in June 2014.