By Megan McCann
Imagine not being mommy’s princess or daddy’s little girl. Imagine not being put first because your parents are more worried about their bottle of alcohol. Or imagine going hungry because your parent was too drunk to feed you. Imagine spending all of your time locked in your bedroom paralyzed with fear that when dad gets home he is going to be angry.
Those are the lives of so many young innocent children live. They suffer immensely from their childhoods and many do not receive the care and services they so desperately deserve.
The remains of a young girl called Baby Doe washed up on Deer Island in Boston Harbor in June 2015. Nearly three months later, in September, she was identified as Bella Bond, the daughter of Rachelle Bond. Her story is not the first of its kind and will certainly not be the last.
After Bella was born, her family was investigated twice with accusations that her mother was neglecting her. The Department of Children and Families determined after a 45-day assessment that Bella was in no immediate danger and could remain in the care of her mother. Is a 45-day assessment really enough time to determine if a child is being properly cared for? No, it is not.
During this time, the family was not visited every day, rather, only a couple of times. If you know that a worker from the DCF is going to be coming to your home to observe the care you provide your child, you are obviously going to be on your best behavior, so to speak, unless you want to be charged with neglect.
So visits by DCF should be frequent and random. A family should not be able to predict when someone is going to show up at their door, and should always assume that it could be today, ensuring they are providing appropriate care.
Not only did the DCF fail Bella, but her own family, friend, and neighbors also failed her. A friend who lived with the Bonds reported after Bella’s death that the couple locked Bella inside the closet and it made him upset to listen to her cry, so he moved out. So, why did he wait until after she had died and her mother and mother’s boyfriend were charged in her death? Why did the neighbors who knew that something was wrong with Rachelle not report it to authorities?
Everyone should be held to the same standards as mandatory reporters. It should not just be teachers and healthcare providers who are required to report allegations of abuse and neglect.
Not only should everyone be held accountable, but everyone should want to report. Knowing that you saw something and then didn’t say anything to authorities later to find out that the child has died or been severely injured, how could you live with yourself?
The DCF has a legacy of failing children and families. What a terrible legacy to have, to know children are dying on your service and under your care. Something needs to be done about it. It is time to protect the vulnerable children by making a change to the DCF.