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Report: Baby Bella fell through state cracks

A state children's advocate said today that DCF knew Bella Bond's mother had had two older siblings taken away and had a long history of drug use and incarceration, yet simply closed her case when she moved out of a shelter 11 months after having her.

The body of Bella Neveah Amoroso Bond, 2 1/2, was found on the shore of Deer Island in June. Her mother's boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, was charged with her murder; her mother, Rachel Bond, also faces charges.

In a report released today, the state Office of the Child Advocate said mother and daughter should never have been left to fend for themselves in a Dorchester apartment after leaving a shelter 11 months after Bella's birth - which came after Rachel Bond was released from jail while pregnant with Bella.

During Ms. Bond's involvement with DCF in 2012 and 2013, DCF received mixed messages about her ability to be an adequate parent to Bella. Both concerns and strengths about Ms. Bond were expressed to DCF staff. However, her past history of arrests, substance abuse, mental health issues, instability and the termination of parental rights for two other children should have triggered higher-level conferences at DCF, and closer attention. DCF's knowledge of her history should have also dictated the need to thoroughly check recent information from all known collaterals and not rely on Ms. Bond's own statements.

The report continues that the Bond case exposes, again, systemic faults in the way the state oversees children in troubled families:

The death of Bella Bond is one of several tragedies over the past two years that have cast a spotlight on DCF and the difficult nature of their work with children and families. Ms. Bond's struggles are shared among the thousands of parents receiving services from DCF who wrestle with substance abuse, mental health issues, violence, and housing and income instability. Ms. Bond's path was complicated by having lost custody of her two older children and having been convicted of crimes and incarcerated. Nonetheless, her first year with Bella in the family shelter was relatively stable. With the support of the shelter staff, her probation officer, and other services, she was able to care for Bella's basic needs and remain out of jail. But these services are not designed to stay in place indefinitely, and after Ms. Bond moved to an apartment the outside services ended. Within twenty months, her old patterns reemerged and things fell apart, and no one from the community was watching out for Bella.

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Comments

More lIke the grand canyon.

This will keep happening as long as we keep pushing the "keep the families together at all cost" BS, and kids only get taken away when they're completely fucked up by their envoronment and are unable to function. Either that, or they get taken away in a body bag.

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These gaping cracks will continue to open so long as the resources available do not match the necessary number of case loads to be tracked.

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Take away the kids and put them up for adoption the moment it's obvious the parents are unfit for the task - trying to keep "families" like this one together is a waste of taxpayer money at best, deadly at worst. The best you can hope for is another crackhead living in and out if jail, though in many cases we simply end up with a dead kid. The way things are now, we're throwing money down the drain and perpetuating the poverty cycle.

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How many have you adopted? Taken in as foster children?

I thought so.

Easy to squawk about "perpetual cycles" of this and that when you ain't doing crap about the fundamental lack of places to put these kids once they are taken from their birth parents.

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Maybe anon is doing all anon can to provide for anon's own brood , for which anon is responsible for, given anon's limited resources.

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I moved out of state, but I often work with children from Massachusetts who were in DCF custody and adopted or are awaiting a different residential facility placement. The residual damage they deal with is often just staggering. Exposure to drugs and alcohol in utero, abuse, reactive attachment disorder, developmental delays, a deep sense of being abandoned, and so on. And I have heard some horror stories about foster parents who simply see these children as a paycheck and nothing more. It's not an easy fix to simply just have these kids taken away from their parents and adopted. Intervention and supportive services need to happen sooner and case workers are usually overloaded.

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And I have heard some horror stories about foster parents who simply see these children as a paycheck and nothing more.

I had a floormate freshman year of college who came from one of those families. Her family hosted high-risk/hard-to-place foster children (HIV positive, often sexually abused, if I recall), and she mentioned something about how her parents generally appreciated the check and how much it helped the family to have the extra income.

The thing that was sad was, this girl actually came from a terribly abusive home. She had all sorts of issues that came to light as she was living with us who hadn't been raised in abusive homes. She had scars from cutting that she had to hide. She had all sorts of weird hangups and phobias that came to light as she lived with other girls who came from more normal homes. She had not been taught proper bathing, grooming, or dressing habits for someone who was 18 or 19 years old, like brushing her teeth or washing her face. She and her close-in-age sisters ended up dropping out of school, taking minimum wage jobs, and marrying very young, due to issues in the family (I believe the abusive parent had health issues.)

For what it's worth, she herself was a nice enough person who tried and was caring. I'm sure she was a good foster sister to these children. But that family should not have been allowed to foster any children.

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What will fix the problem of abused children is more orphanages.

That's always worked in the past.

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There's plenty of wonderful gay and older couples who would love to adopt, but they're forced to adopt from abroad because kids here have been through hell and back and need a small army of social workers and bucketloads of meds by the time the system finally decides to take them away from their "parents." They should be taken away as toddlers, now when they're 8 or 10 and broken beyond all repair.

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Great! Let's make it happen! DCF is massively underfunded, and the governor's office has charitably suggested slashing their budget further, so we're going to need some volunteers to handle the extra workload. I'd suggest you go to work deciding which parents will fail their children as teenagers (when said children are still toddlers), anon, but I suspect that your crystal ball is a little murky, making you prone to inexplicably selecting a lot more poor and minority children than pure chance would dictate.

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Or the baby shopping is just better abroad?

There are over 100,000 kids available for adoption in the US right now. More children become available for adoption each year than are adopted. On average they wait three years in foster care for adoption. Are they all not good enough for your old buddies? They need a better selection of babies and toddlers? More colors maybe?

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than a driving one.

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Then moms are already passing a vastly more difficult test than "open crackerjack box, retrieve license".

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That isn't parenting. That is Pregnancy, labor and delivery.

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After an hour or two wait in the RMV and a parallel parking demonstration isn't driving either.

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Can't remember the last time I heard of anyone actually having to do that during an RMV road test.

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Who said it is? Which RMV do you go to? I've been missing out!

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The report itself said the caseworkers had a caseload of 16 which is only one case above their target caseload of 15 cases/month. So the Bond case was probably just incompetence/malpractice/negligence paired with a lack of managerial oversight. Unfortunately, this is a theme of a lot of these state reports from DCF, the state crime lab, etc.

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A DCF worker I knew said that there are 2 groups of people who are neglected by the protective services system: white kids and black parents. White kids b/c they are left in abusive situations longer than they should, and black parents b/c their kids are taken away with the slightest involvement in DCF. This institutional racism is well documented across the country. Who is responsible for this? An underfunded, overworked agency?

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I know quite a few social workers, and according to them more often than not the only way the kid gets taken away for good is in a body bag regardless of their skin color. Save you race card crap for dailykos.

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Because racism is over. It couldn't possibly be a factor here. Anon has spoken. Move along.

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