Department of Children and Families Hires First Medical Director
Director of Strategic Initiatives, Ombudsman also to join agency leadership
(BOSTON) - The Department of Children and Families (DCF) today announced a major milestone in its mission to keep kids safe and implement system-wide reforms by hiring the department’s first full-time Medical Director, Dr. Linda Sagor, as well as an Ombudsman and Director of Strategic Planning.
Sagor, a professor of clinical pediatrics and founder and director of the Foster Children Evaluation Services Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, joins the department as the Baker-Polito Administration authorized a $35.5 million increase in DCF funding for Fiscal Year 2016 to protect children and support frontline social workers.
Sagor’s hire is the result of recommendations in the agency’s blueprint for change, the 2014 Child Welfare League of America report. The report called for a medical director to provide oversight and consultation to DCF’s nursing and social work staff on general and behavioral health issues as well as complex medical cases for children in custody and those receiving services at home.
“The addition of a full-time medical director and Dr. Sagor, in particular, is critical to DCF fulfilling its mission to protect the health and safety of kids under its care,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “Dr. Sagor is a nationally recognized expert on the medical needs of foster children and will provide the kind of high level of medical scrutiny needed on DCF’s most complex cases.”
“Few pediatricians have a better understanding of our foster children’s needs than Dr. Sagor,” said DCF Commissioner Linda Spears. “She will collaborate with physicians across the Commonwealth to ensure that medical decisions are being made in the child’s best interest. We are very fortunate to have someone of her caliber join the Department.”
Sagor, who has been a DCF consultant since 2012, will facilitate compliance with Department policy requiring every child have a medical screening within seven days of foster care placement and a comprehensive exam within 30 days. She is also charged with maintaining relationships with hospital-based pediatric child abuse specialists; developing and implementing a policy for monitoring psychotropic medications prescribed to foster children and completing the Department’s efforts to establish a panel of doctors to advise DCF on medically complex cases.
“I look forward to achieving our shared goal of developing a state-wide system to ensure that every child in DCF’s care receives comprehensive and compassionate health care,” Sagor said. “These are some of the most vulnerable children in our Commonwealth. Our responsibility is to provide them with excellent and coordinated medical, dental, and mental health services.”
Other key hires include:
Andrea Bartolo, DCF Director of Strategic Planning
Andrea will oversee the implementation of this unprecedented effort between DCF management and union leadership. She brings to the position three decades of experience as a social worker and an administrator, most recently with the Child Welfare League of America where she served as Director of Consultation, working with child welfare agencies nationwide on program and service reviews and training.
Bartolo’s initial work with the Department will involve the reforms around development of new intake and supervisor policies, examination of complex cases with multiple abuse reports, retention and recruitment of social workers, reestablishment of the Central Massachusetts Regional Office and reducing the backlog of foster home applicants.
Susan Cummings, DCF Ombudsman
Susan will manage the in-house team that responds to all public inquiries on agency policy, programs and services. As Ombudsman, Cummings will mediate and resolve issues brought to the agency’s attention by parties including legislators, foster parents, clients, relatives of clients, adoptive parents and child advocates and serves as an advisor to the Commissioner on policy and programmatic changes.
Cummings is a veteran of the Department, having served for several years as an ongoing social worker before moving into roles as an adolescent assessment worker and court liaison. Most recently, she was a clinical specialist with the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate.
About the Department of Children and Families:
The Department of Children and Families is the state’s child welfare agency, serving more than 46,000 children. The agency strives to protect children from abuse and neglect and, in partnership with families and communities, ensure children are able to grow and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment.