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Does Massachusetts really care about kids?

The Child Welfare League of America recommended changes to the “CORI” rules for foster parents after the death of Jeremiah Oliver. In their final report of May 22, 2014, they disqualify foster/adoptive parents for certain crimes, most of which you’d expect (see excerpt below).

But they don’t disqualify all felonies, and that is a huge problem. I’ve been working with and representing foster kids for 15 years. How can an agency professing “child welfare” in its title issue a report that allows kids to be placed in homes where someone has committed a felony, if more than five years has passed since the commission of that crime?

How about a zero tolerance policy when it comes to placing kids who are the most vulnerable in our state? I hope the Governor and DCF will go beyond these recommendations and disqualify anyone with a felony conviction for physical assault or battery.

As for the current discussion about unaccompanied immigrant children, I would like the Governor and every other elected Massachusetts official and candidate for office who is a lawyer to please report the number of pro bono hours they have spent helping such children or any other children for that matter.

For the non-lawyers, I’d like them to report the free hours they have given doing anything for such children.  Their pontificating rings pretty hollow to me as I’ve seen very few of them at the countless free legal clinics I’ve done and been to over the past two decades.

I’ve also never seen them in the juvenile courts taking a real interest in foster kids (where several of these immigrant children end up) or stepping up to foster kids in their upscale homes.  So, please, save us the indignant tears unless you’ve actually sacrificed your time and safety to help even one of these children.

“11. MA Regulations 110 CMR 18.0 (DCF Criminal Offender Record Checks) and 102 CMR 5.0 (EEC Standards for Licensure or Approval of Agencies Offering Child Placement and Adoption Services) should be revised to require that if the results of a background check indicate that an applicant has been convicted of any of the following felonies and a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the felony was committed, then the individual’s application shall be rejected and the individual shall be excluded from eligibility as a foster parent, adoptive parent, or kinship provider. There shall be no exceptions for these crimes:
• a state or federal felony conviction for assault and battery on a child with injury (c. 265,§13J),
• assault with intent to rape (c. 265, §24),
• forcible rape of a child/assault with intent to rape a child (c. 265, § 22A, 22B, 22C, 24B),
• rape and abuse of child aggravated by age (c. 265, § 23A),
• rape and abuse of child by previous offenders (c. 265, § 23B),
• posing or exhibiting child (c. 272, §29A),
• incest (c. 272, §17),
• indecent assault and battery (c 265, §13H, c 265, § 13B, 13B ó, 13B ., c265, §13F),
• inducing a minor to prostitution (c. 272, §4A),
• murder (c. 265, §1),
• rape (c. 265, §22(b), c 265, §22(a)),
• unnatural acts with a child under 16 (c. 272, §35A),
• enticement of child under 18 prostitution (c.265, § 26D),
• human trafficking (c. 265 §§50-).

If a record check reveals that a foster care, adoption, or kinship applicant or any potential caregiver in the home has a state or federal felony conviction for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense, and a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the felony was committed in the past 5 years, the department or licensed placement agency shall reject the request for foster care placement, adoption, or kinship care.”


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