Criminal Justice

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Mass. appeals court upholds ruling dismissing DCF lawsuit

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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. Continue Reading →

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Unexplained infant deaths to be reported to state social workers

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Each year, dozens of Massachusetts children die suddenly and unexpectedly. But new guidelines — released in a report filed on the medical examiner’s website earlier this fall — already are prompting concern from some families and groups involved in the prevention of unexpected infant deaths, which include sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, as well as accidental suffocation and entrapment, and other unexplained causes. Continue Reading →

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Sudden infant death: Agency-linked babies more at risk

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Children in homes supervised by state social workers die suddenly and unexpectedly at least twice the rate of infants statewide, according to an analysis of the most recent available data by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. That suggests to child welfare advocates that more should be done to educate caretakers of some of the state’s most vulnerable children about how to minimize the risk of sudden death. Continue Reading →

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Explosion of drug-dependent infants reveals weakness in Mass. child protection

The Grave of Mya Barry in Pine Hill Cemetery, Quincy, Mass. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe)

Mya Barry's brief life and untimely death point to weaknesses in a social services system that is struggling to deal with the region’s booming addiction to prescription and illegal drugs — a plague that has besieged hospitals with drug-exposed newborns and overwhelmed state social workers for the past five years. Continue Reading →

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