Investigations

OCA investigations of individual cases regarding children receiving state services.

OCA Report Concerning Harmony Montgomery

The Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) released findings and recommendations following a multi-system investigation into the case of Harmony Montgomery, who was declared missing by the New Hampshire authorities in December 2021. 

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OCA Report on the Implementation of Recommendations from the David Almond Child Fatality Investigation

The OCA details the progress several state entities have made in implementing the OCA’s recommendations from its March 2021 multi-system investigation into the death of David Almond. The OCA’s child fatality investigation determined that David Almond, who died from starvation at home with his father and father’s girlfriend, and David’s siblings, fell through gaps in the state system of care. Many of the gaps were created by the lack of understanding of how a child’s disability may affect that child, how evaluation of risks and warning signs of abuse and neglect should take a child’s disabilities into account, and how caregiver capacity should be evaluated considering the individualized strengths and needs of children. These systemic gaps were compounded by the unprecedented strain the COVID-19 pandemic had on the Commonwealth’s children and families, and on the entities that provide support to them.  

The OCA provided 26 recommendations for policy, procedure, and practice improvements within and across the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Fall River Public Schools, the Massachusetts Juvenile Court, and the Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS). This report, which is linked below, outlines the many timely and concerted actions these state entities have taken to address the OCA’s recommendations.   

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OCA Releases Investigative Report on the Death of David Almond

The Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) released findings and recommendations following a multi-system investigation into the October 2020 death of David Almond, a 14-year old autistic triplet residing in Fall River. Secretary Marylou Sudders of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) requested that the OCA conduct an independent investigation into the actions and inactions of state agencies from which the Almond family was entitled to receive state services. The OCA identified several key findings relative to this case which are described in the report below.

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OCA Report Concerning the Death of Bella Bond

The 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 review examines the role of DCF when it was involved with the Bond family, and of other public agencies and community service providers from whom the family received professional services or financial support. The goal was to determine if opportunities were missed to raise concerns about the safety and well-being of Bella.

The OCA’s review reinforces that the safety and well being of a child is the shared responsibility of the family, community, and entities responsible for providing assistance to children and families. It is not intended to place blame, but rather to gather and synthesize information from multiple sources. To that end the OCA presents findings and recommendations for improvement in the Commonwealth’s ability to protect children.  The completed OCA report is available here.

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OCA Report Concerning the Disappearance of Jeremiah Oliver

The Office of the Child Advocate conducted an independent investigation into the disappearance of Jeremiah Oliver and DCF’s work with the Oliver family. The OCA investigation included a review of DCF records and other documents and interviews with agency, union, and law enforcement personnel. The OCA concluded that the high caseloads at DCF’s North Central Area Office provide a context rather than an explanation or excuse for the repeated failures of the DCF employees. The complete OCA report, along with the DCF Investigation Report of December 30, 2013 is available here.

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OCA Releases Statement Concerning the Death of Chase Gideika

The Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) received a Critical Incident Report on July 8, 2013, regarding the death of three-month-old Chase Gideika. Secretary John Polanowicz of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) requested that the OCA conduct an independent investigation into DCF's work with Chase Gideika’s family. This investigation included extensive document review and interviews with agency, union, and law enforcement personnel. A statement summarizing the OCA’s observations and recommendations is available below.

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