Welcome to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA)

The goal of the OCA is to ensure that every child involved with state agencies in Massachusetts is protected from harm and receives quality services. We are here to listen to the problems you encounter and identify resources and strategies that can help. We also work with legislators, social workers, doctors, administrators, and other professionals to improve services to children and families.

We invite you to explore this website to learn more about the responsibilities of the OCA . You can contact us to share your concerns or to give us feedback about your experience.

Slideshow Featured Content

  • Picture of a African American baby sleeping in a crib

    Keep Sleep Time Safe

    By raising awareness about safe sleep and the prevention of sudden unexpected infant death, we can move toward the goal of making every sleep time safe for every baby in Massachusetts.

    Learn More »

  • photo of girl speaking with adults

    Foster Children and Medications

    Children and youth in foster care deserve our best efforts to make sure they grow up healthy and safe.

    Learn More »

  • photo of dad and daughter playing indoors

    Make Your Home a SAFE HOME for Your Child

    Parents can prevent injuries to their children by carrying out a home safety evaluation and putting child safety measures into place.

    Learn More »

Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) Releases Final Report to the Legislature Regarding DCF Management

The Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) is releasing its Management review of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) as required by the State Legislature. This report was prepared at the request of the Legislature in language contained in the General Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2015.

Read the Final Report to the Legislature Regarding DCF Management  pdf format of Final Report to the Legislature Regarding DCF Managemen
docx format of                             Final Report to the Legislature Regarding DCF Managemen                .

 


Office of the Child Advocate Releases Final Report Concerning the Death of Bella Bond

The Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) was asked by Governor Baker to conduct an independent review of the Commonwealth’s involvement with two-year-old Bella Bond and her family during her short life. The OCA’s findings regarding DCF casework in 2012-2013 are similar to those identified in other recent case reviews released by the Governor and OCA and are being addressed by initiatives currently underway, including rebuilding DCF’s management structure, quality assurance processes, and policies to provide clear guidance and oversight to staff in assessing risk to children and monitoring families. 

The complete OCA report is available here: Final Report Concerning the Death of Bella Bond  pdf format of Final Report Concerning the Death of Bella Bond
docx format of                             Final Report Concerning the Death of Bella Bond                .
 


Press Release: Office of the Child Advocate to Review Involvement with Bella Bond’s Family

As Governor Baker has announced, the Office of the Child Advocate will examine the involvement of child welfare, all executive agencies, police and any other service providers with Bella Bond’s family to see if any opportunities were missed to raise issues about her safety and well being and what lessons can be learned to prevent another tragedy like this.  Read the full Press Release: Office of the Child Advocate to Review Involvement with Bella Bond’s Family  pdf format of Press Release: Office of the Child Advocate to Review I
docx format of                             Press Release: Office of the Child Advocate to Review I
 


OCA Files Interim Report on Review of DCF Management

On September 9, 2015, the OCA released an interim report regarding a review of DCF management.  This review is being conducted by the Ripples Group under contract with the OCA. Child Advocate Garinger said, “This interim report provides timely information identifying preliminary findings and outlining next steps.”  The final report will be filed by November 2, 2015. Read the Third Interim Report From the OCA Regarding Review of DCF Management  pdf format of Third Interim Report From the OCA Regarding Review of D
docx format of                             Third Interim Report From the OCA Regarding Review of D

 


OCA Releases Annual Report FY 2015

From The Child Advocate, Gail Garinger:  “I am pleased to release to you the annual report of the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) for Fiscal Year 2015.  The report covers the activities and initiatives of our office during the last year and includes recommendations for legislative and policy changes.  This will be my last report as Child Advocate, as I have decided to move on to the next chapter of my career.  I am proud of the work we have accomplished both this year and in prior years. I am mindful that there is still much to be done. I thank you for the honor of serving as the Commonwealth’s first Child Advocate.”  

The complete report, along with prior annual reports, is available here: http://www.mass.gov/childadvocate/reports/.  

 


The Ripples Group Releases Final Report on DCF Fair Hearing System

On June 29, 2015, The Ripples Group submitted to the OCA and the Legislature a final report concerning their evaluation of the DCF Fair Hearing system. Beginning in November 2014, The Ripples Group conducted an in-depth, fact-driven assessment of the DCF Fair Hearing system to determine whether it was timely, independent and fair.  Judge Garinger said, “The Ripples Group looked at the DCF Fair Hearing system through the lens of the appellant, the person affected by DCF’s decision.  While noting significant improvements, the report highlights key issues warranting further attention by DCF and the Legislature.” Read the Final Report  pdf format of Final Report
docx format of                             Final Report                .

 


OCA Files Report on DCF 2014 Parent and Guardian Survey

On June 22, 2015, the OCA filed a second interim report with the Legislature regarding its review of the 2014 DCF Parent and Guardian Survey. The OCA report, including recommendations, is part of the larger DCF management review the OCA has been asked to conduct by the Legislature with a final report due in early November of this year. Upon filing this interim report, Judge Garinger said, “The DCF survey provides valuable information about what former clients have to say about DCF policies and practices.” A copy of the DCF’s report on the survey results is available upon request. Read the OCA’s 2nd Interim Report. pdf format of Second Interim Report
doc format of                             Second Interim Report