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Whereas, it is the Commonwealth's responsibility to strive to provide all children the necessary services that will promote their best interests to ensure their health, safety, and welfare;
Whereas, it is incumbent upon the Commonwealth to review, evaluate and revise our protocols and procedures relating to the delivery of such services, when necessary, to help make certain that errors in judgment can be avoided to provide opportunity for the future for all children; and
Whereas, the recent and tragic case of severe abuse suffered by Haleigh Poutre, an eleven year-old girl, warrants an objective and careful review to evaluate the timeliness and appropriateness of services offered to her by the Department of Social Services (the "Department") prior to 'her hospitalization on September 11, 2005 as well as the subsequent decision that led the Department to seek removal of her life support through the courts.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mitt Romney, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Supreme Executive Magistrate, do order as follows:
Section 1. There is hereby established the Governor's Special Panel for the Review of the Haleigh Poutre Case (the "Panel"). The Panel shall consist of three private citizens who have relevant expertise who will serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Governor shall designate a chair.
Section 2. The Panel shall advise the Governor as to any action needed to strengthen the role of the Department that will result in the better care and protection of the children of the Commonwealth. Specifically, the Panel shall:
(i) Review Haleigh's case history, including medical and other clinical information available to the Department, to determine if the Department followed its regulations, procedures and protocols with regard to: timeliness of investigations; provision for child safety; decisions on placements; provision of appropriate services; and the weight accorded to the recommendations of the medical and other clinical professionals involved with Haleigh and her family in the period prior to September 11, 2005.
ii) Assess, on the basis of this review, whether the Department's policies, procedures, and standards of practice were adequate and appropriate to address the complex issues raised by this case, and recommend changes or modifications that could better address similar cases in the future.
(iii) Review, similarly, Haleigh's case history, including medical and any other clinical information available to the Department, to determine whether the Department followed its regulations, procedures and protocols with regard to its decision to seek judicial authority to institute a Do Not Resuscitate ("DNR") order and to remove life support in the period following September 11, 2005.
(iv) Assess, on the basis of this review, whether the Department's policies, procedures, and standards of practice were adequate and appropriate to address the complex issues raised by this case, and recommend changes or modifications that could better address similar cases in the future.
(v) Make written recommendations to the Governor regarding any steps that should be taken with regard to the Department's actions in this case and with respect to the handling of future cases, including changes to procedures, protocols or standards of practice aimed at improving performance to ensure the safety and well-being of children.
Section 3. The Panel shall be granted access by the Department to client information involving Haleigh Poutre and her family, including medical or psychological information, provided, that the Panel members shall keep such information confidential, for use solely in connection with this review. In conducting the review, the Panel may consult with any individual having expertise in child welfare, medical ethics, and other applicable professions and interview employees of the Department to assist in completing its review and recommendations. All discussions and meetings of the Panel shall be closed and confidential, and members shall not disclose any information regarding this matter.
Section 4. Members of the Panel, to the extent permitted by law, shall be indemnified by the Commonwealth for actions taken pursuant to this Executive Order.
Section 5. The Panel shall complete its work and submit its written report and recommendations to the Governor within thirty (30) days following its first meeting.
Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 3rd day of February in the year two thousand and six, and of the Independence of the United States of America two hundred and twenty-nine.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
William Francis Galvin
Secretary of State