A look at Department of Children and Families uncovers Stubborn problems

Neglected and abused children are lingering in Massachusetts foster care for an average of nearly two years, and many who have reunited with family return to the system at a rate above the national median, according to a new report that underscores the challenges still hobbling the state’s child […]

The Department of Children and Families’ first annual report, while detailing some progress in reducing caseloads and hiring staff, highlights a series of other stubborn issues facing the long-troubled agency.

Children are bouncing between homes within the foster care system at a rate nearly double the national standard, for example. And teens in foster care are graduating high school at a rate far below DCF’s own goals.

Released this week, the 77-page report is in itself a novel effort. It comes after a working group has already spent more than two years developing better ways to track the department. DCF’s commissioner, Linda S. Spears, called it the “most comprehensive report the department has ever produced.”

But amid the various trends — which are detailed over five years, some for the first time publicly — advocates say it lacks necessary context about how DCF is using the data or what’s driving the changes.

It also doesn’t include other data, such as the number of children who died while under the state’s watch, which DCF officials say they include in a separate report.

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