Department of Children and Families Makes Policy Changes After Trial of Bella Bond - NBC Boston

Department of Children and Families Makes Policy Changes After Trial of Bella Bond

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    The murder of two-year-old Bella Bond is bringing changes to the Department of Children and Families.

    (Published Wednesday, June 28, 2017)

    The murder of two-year-old Bella Bond is bringing changes to Massachusetts' Department of Children and Families.

    Maria Mossaides, the Executive Director of the Office of the Child Advocate, who led the investigation into Bond's death, said her case and two other high profile cases, have forced the Massachusetts agency to rethink and redesign everything.

    "What Bella's case did was point out the deficiencies of case practice at the Department of Children and Families," Mossaides said. "DCF is a better functioning agency today than it was in the period of Bella. They have new policies, they have new staff. There is a renewed emphasis on child safety."

    Before Bond was found murdered, DCF had not updated its policy since 2009. NBC Boston obtained the new DCF guidelines that includes one that mandates caseworkers visit the home of a child if the family is being investigated.

    Mossaides said before Bond, caseworkers were so overwhelmed they often prioritized visits or weren't thorough enough.

    "There is a new focus on ensuring that all of the visits are made and there are additional instructions around what they expectations around what’s going to take place during those family visits," Mossaides said.

    NBC Boston also asked Tiziana Dearing, a professor of social work at Boston college, about the new guidelines.

    Dearing led Catholic Charities of Boston through a reorganization after the priest sex abuse scandal.

    "I see an agency that is definitely trying to close loopholes," Dearing said. "I think these processes do a better job at tight response, flexibility where a social worker needs it, but consultation with other people who have a bird’s eye view."

    Since Bond's case, 282 social workers and 96 managers have been hired. Caseloads have also been reduced.

    "DCF is in the process of rebuilding itself, is it in a better situation today than it was than it was at the time we discovered Bella’s body," said Mossaides.


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