Audit: MA DCF unaware of assault to Children in their care, 118 incidents of sexual abuse
MA DCF does not consider sexual abuse a “critical incident”
BOSTON, MA – An audit released Thursday by State Auditor Suzanne Bump found the Department of Children and Families was unaware of more than 250 incidents of what appeared to be “serious bodily injury” to children in their care, and did not report more than 100 incidents of sexual abuse.
“I can’t frankly understand how it is that they can justify their willing ignorance of this information,” Bump told 22News.
According to a news release sent to 22News by Bump’s office, the audit discovered that DCF was relying on others to report occurrences of serious bodily injury to children rather than using data sources they have “at their fingertips.”
“The audit discovered gunshot wounds, burns and head contusions went undetected by the Department of Children and Families.”
The 260 incidents of serious bodily injury include:
15-year-old with brain damage from a firearm injury.
1-year-old with first and second degree burns on body.
12-year-old with multiple head contusions that a doctor determined was the result of an assault.
Bump is also calling on the DCF to consider sexual abuse a critical incident. Since it is not considered a critical incident, DCF does not report instances of sexual abuse to the Office of the Child Advocate, which is tasked with making sure children in state care receive timely and effective services.
“Bump’s audit found that 118 incidents of sexual abuse of a child in DCF care were not reported to the Office of the Child Advocate.”
These incidents include:
Sexual abuse by 2 male employees at DCF-contracted residential facilities; Both sexually abused three girls each.
10-year-old raped by his father.
4-year-old sexually abused by her mother.
17-year-old who was gang raped by five assailants.
Designating incidents of sexual abuse as critical incidents would trigger immediate investigation actions into those incidents.
“How can the agency not consider sexual abuse a serious injury to a child? It defies logic,” Bump said in the release sent to 22News.
Bump said in response to the audit, DCF is centralizing its reporting of critical incidents in which children in its care are involved, updating its procedures for referring incidents of abuse, neglect, and/or sexual abuse to DA offices, and recording child-on-child injuries in case files.
Bump suggested that DCF use MassHealth data to identify serious injuries to children under its care.
SAN ANTONIO, TX – The child who was the subject of an AMBER Alert on Monday night was found safely in La Grange, more than 90 miles east of San Antonio.
San Antonio police spent nearly two hours looking for a 3-year-old child who was in a car that was stolen on the city’s West Side.
Josue Gonzalez, 3,
who was last seen in the backseat of a 1998 dark green Ford Mustang convertible.
Gonzalez is 2 feet tall and weighs 32 pounds. He has brown hair, brown eyes, and last seen wearing a pink/red shirt with gray collars, cut off jean shorts and blue and brown Sperry shoes.
A man has been arrested, police said.
The suspect was driving a dark green 1998 Mustang with a Texas license plate number DD2P676. The car has a ripped black convertible top, front left damage, right tail light out, back glass falling out and a portable gas tank visible.
The child’s mother said Gonzalez was asleep in the backseat of the stolen vehicle, police said. She left the child in the car with it running while she went inside to pick up her boyfriend.
Child’s body found in Richardson is ‘most likely’ missing 3-year-old Sherin Mathews
Dallas, TX – Less than a mile from the Richardson home where a missing 3-year-old was last seen two weeks ago, officials on Sunday discovered the body of a young child.
Police have not yet confirmed whether the body is that of Sherin Mathews, who has been missing since Oct. 7, but they indicated they have no reason to think it is a different child.
The medical examiner will determine the child’s identification and cause of death.
“The indications are that it is most likely her, however, we have not had positive ID. So until we have a positive identification we are not going to say it is Sherin,” Sgt. Kevin Perlich said.
The body was found about 11 a.m. in a culvert near East Spring Valley and South Bowser roads, east of U.S. Highway 75, with the help of search dogs.
As the investigation continued to unfold, more and more stuff came to [the] surface and we followed up on that,” Perlich said. “It led to the search of that area with canines, and that’s how we came across the body.”
The area was blocked off as a crime scene as police waited for the FBI response team to process the area. Late Sunday afternoon, a sheet-covered stretcher was loaded into a waiting van.
Sherin’s parents have been notified of the discovery.
The girl’s adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, was charged with abandoning or endangering a child after Sherin went missing. He was released from jail after posting bond and was required to wear an electronic monitoring device and surrender his passport.
No additional charges have been filed.
During a court appearance Monday, Sherin’s parents learned that their biological child, a 4-year-old girl, will remain in foster care for another three weeks while Wesley Mathews looks for a civil attorney.
Judge Cheryl Shannon has set a custody hearing for Nov. 13.