For Immediate Release - February 14, 2014

DCF Commissioner Olga Roche Receives Widespread Support from Child Welfare Community

"As a former social worker who has built a career in child welfare, Commissioner Roche understands the complex situations many DCF families face. There are certainly areas where we need to improve our systems, and Olga has the support of myself and the Governor as she takes on this task. It is important to have a steady hand during this time, and that is exactly the type of leadership Commissioner Roche has demonstrated."

— John Polanowicz, HHS Secretary

"The DCF commissioner’s job is incredibly difficult, and Olga Roche is up to task. We have worked very closely with her since she took on this new role and we know she does not back down from a challenge. We have every hope that she is the leader to steer DCF through this difficult time. Changing Commissioners at this point would not bring the Commonwealth any closer to achieving DCF’s primary responsibility of protecting children."

— Erin G. Bradley, Executive Director, Children’s League of Massachusetts

"The Grandparents Commission supports Commissioner Roche’s leadership during these difficult times. There are 32,000 grandparents primarily responsible for their grandchildren in the Commonwealth, nearly 10,000 of them without either parent of the children present in the household. Commissioner Roche has provided unwavering support for the Commission’s effort to assist these caregivers. She gets it. She understands how important kinship placement is in order to provide stability in the lives of abused and neglected children. We support the Department’s practice of granting waivers to foster homes with grandparents, or relatives. When I was in the Legislature we passed a law to allow people with CORIs to be considered as caregivers after careful screening. We now need more families to step up to provide loving, safe foster homes."

— John Lepper, Chair of the Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, former State Representative (R-2nd Bristol District) Ret. 2008

"I support Commissioner Olga Roche maintaining the position of Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families. She has been dedicated to the department for over twenty years and brings a committed heart to the families served. Commissioner Roche is a leader, a beacon of hope, change, and light for the Department of Children and Families."

— Dr. Jacqueline Harris PhD., Executive Director, Supportive Care

"Commissioner Olga Roche understands child welfare practice and policy from first-hand experience. Olga has worked in this field as a social worker and administrator. She recognizes the complexities of the work and has always been committed to improving the lives of children and families."

— Julie Sweeney Springwater, MSW, Director, New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors Judge Baker Children's Center

"I have served on the Kids Fund board with Olga for over 5 years, and in that time I have learned what an intensely passionate leader she is, and how much she deeply cares for children across the Commonwealth. Her long, dedicated history of serving vulnerable children makes her the ideal person to resolve the inherited issues facing the Department."

— Jeff Dufficy, Owner, Domino’s franchises, Board Member, DCF Kids Fund

"As President and CEO of the largest minority multi-service provider to the Commonwealth in Worcester County, I push for the highest quality of social services and reforms to reinforce support for minority communities and Olga has been a great partner. She began just last fall, and in that short time she has already made great strides and improvements to the Department, while facing incredible challenges. As a highly qualified veteran of the Department, who has worked her way through most positions starting as a social worker, she realizes that the diverse community of children and families being served require outside-the-box supports to truly impact their lives in the short and long term. As an Area Director, she held her team accountable and knows the importance of measured oversight to ensure the safety of all children. "

— Juan A. Gomez President and CEO, Centro Las Americas

"Olga Roche has many successful years as a direct care social worker, supervisor and manager. Olga has full understanding of what is required by her staff to provide quality care to our Commonwealth's most vulnerable children. In this time of examination of DCF what is needed is consistent leadership at the top. Olga Roche remains that person."

— William Lyttle, President of Key, founding member of Citizens For Juvenile Justice, Richard J. Bond Award for Excellence in Human Services, and former President of the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers

"If anyone is equipped to be transparent and committed to dialog for improvement with all stakeholders, it is Olga Roche. She has first-hand, front-line experience with Massachusetts' children and families. Her years of experience, sound judgment, and caring for our kids are matched only by her ability to take swift and decisive action when circumstances call for it."

— Maria Z. Mossaides, Chair of the Children’s League of Massachusetts and Executive Director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Service

"Commissioner Roche and her team need continued support and resources to make the difficult, critical decisions inherent in their work. Of course the system can be improved, all systems need to constantly evolve, building on strengths and addressing shortfalls. Overreaction and blaming serves no good purpose. We have to move forward in a thoughtful and collaborative way that holds all of us accountable for our part in making our systems work on behalf of those children who are most vulnerable."

— Susan M. Getman, M.S.W., Chief Executive Officer, Walker School

"Olga Roche provided strong, compassionate leadership as an Area Director many years ago. Those of us who knew her then and know her now, have always appreciated her dedication to families and children to making sure, to the best of her ability, that they are safe. We agree with Governor Deval Patrick that she must remain in her role as the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families to ensure that the corrections needed to prevent other tragedies continues. We are very proud of her Latino heritage and her many accomplishments. We have great respect for the Department of Children and Families and support Olga Roche in every way."

— Neddy Latimer, Director, Spanish American Center (SAC)

"I have known Olga Roche, Commissioner of DCF, for more than 20 years. She is a passionate advocate for the families and children served by DCF. Her integrity and dedication to the mission of protecting and nurturing these vulnerable children into becoming contributing members of our community is without question."

— Maurice Boisvert, President Emeritus, You Inc.

"DCF Commissioner Roche is the right leader to address the issues facing the Department. Since taking on the position a few months ago, she has done an incredible job shoring up protocols and enhancing supports that keep children and their families safe, with the resources that are available to the Department. We need her now, more than ever."

— Larry Begley, Co-Founder and Managing Director, 406 ventures, Chairman, DCF Kids Fund

"As Commissioner of DCF, Olga and her team must manage and navigate some of the most risky situations on a daily basis, finding balance between safety and care in an already overwhelmed system. She and her incredible staff work in partnership with communities and providers to make these tough decisions, and they need our continued support in the challenging work they do. We all want the best systems in place to aid our Commonwealth's vulnerable youth, but we must do so in a thoughtful way that does not have unintended negative consequences."

— George Neble, DCF Kids Fund Board Member

"I have been fortunate enough to work with the senior leadership of Department of Children and Families for the last seven years in my role as a national consultant. DCF works with complex families sometimes going through the most difficult times of their live and has an incredible responsibility that no one truly understands without being in their shoes. Creating temporary solutions to permanent problems becomes practice and the norm of an agency facing crisis - don't let this happen. Commissioner Olga Roche understands the incredibly complex nature of this work and supports efforts to best meet the needs of the children and families of the Commonwealth. She is the right person for the job. Commissioner Roche has been unwavering in this commitment I support her and stand by her in these difficult times and I ask others to do the same."

— John Lang, National child welfare consultant

"I have known Olga Roche for 20 plus years, first as an Area Director of the Worcester Area DCF Office. My husband John and I adopted three children, a sibling group in 1991, who were separated in foster care before coming to us. We experienced Kinship Caregiving with two grandchildren and have experienced temporary and permanent guardianship over the years. Olga has risen through the ranks as a social worker, supervisor, Area Director, Regional Director and Deputy Director before being appointed to the Commissioner of DCF. She has ‘been there’ and done the work of her people at all levels always with a compassionate but firm view, always with child safety and protection front and center."

— Linda Cavaioli, Executive Director YWCA, Central MA

"As a dedicated foster/adoptive parent for over two decades caring for 167 children in my home, many whom have had issues with mental health or were victims of sexual assault, I know firsthand the challenges of caring and protecting children. In my role as the president of Massachusetts Alliance for Families (MAFF), I advocate to enhance the quality of life for children who cannot live with their biological families and for the families who care for them. Therefore, I firmly believe that It is instrumental that we have dedicated, compassionate, and understanding leaders at the state level to support the work we do. Olga Roche has proven that she has the knowledge, understanding and experience to make DCF stronger for our children. This Commissioner brings decades of accumulated skills and wisdom as a social worker and manager that is hard to replicate. The theoretical and practical understanding of the DCF community that she holds is invaluable. Commissioner Roche just walked into this position and has had little time to resolve the many inherited indiscretions of others. I feel strongly that she will bring the expertise and skill that is required to make the Commonwealth stronger for our children and families."

— Cheryl Haddad, President of the Mass Alliance for Families, former regional Vice President of the National Foster Parent Association and President of the New England Foster Parent Association

"I have known Commissioner Roche for 12 years. She is a very fine professional, very knowledgeable and committed to her work. She is dedicated to the safety and well-being of children and is the right person to lead DCF through this time."

— Judy Shute, Director of Development Senior Care Program Arbour

"As an expert in child welfare oversight, I wholeheartedly endorse Governor Patrick’s approach to establishing accountability at the Department of Children and Families. From the moment he was elected, the Governor has put children first in his administration. Moreover, I have full confidence in Commissioner Roche, who has shown great courage in the most difficult assignment imaginable. "

— Maureen Flatley, Essex, MA-based consultant specializing in oversight of child welfare and adoption. Member of the board of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Commonwealth’s Adoption Process Task Force

"The Providers’ Council understands the unique and pressing challenges the Department of Children and Families faces in protecting our state’s children from harm and strengthening families," said Michael Weekes, president and CEO of the Providers’ Council, the state’s largest association of community-based human service providers. "But calls for DCF Commissioner Olga Roche to resign or be fired are shortsighted and may only seek to mask real problems, like the persistent underfunding of our state’s system of care. Adjusted for inflation, the Department of Children and Families budget has been reduced by nearly $130 million since 2009. While money alone is not the solution, we cannot expect optimal results for this agency — or any other — if it doesn’t have the staff and provider resources allocated in the budget. Let’s get her the resources she needs to lead a first rate organization"

— Michael Weekes, President and CEO, Providers' Council

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