Attorney Deborah Sirotkin Butler of Arlington writes:
While Bachrach [in the Boston Globe article that Atty. Rich wrote about in the previous post] laments the ouster of Harry Spence from DSS, and is so so full of praise that his column sounded like an obituary, I am glad to see change at the top of DSS.
Harry Spence for all his alleged "vision" had no training or experience in social work, child psychology or indeed any psychology, child development, or family dynamics. It showed.
Under Spence, in hundreds of cases I never saw any input from parents, therapists, or indeed, counsel into the so-called "Service Plans" that are supposedly there to assist families. What I did see is a commitment to speedy adoptions to such an extent that it looked like a deliberate desire to move children from economically struggling parents to the well-to-do.
Middle class families who already owned homes received $1400 per month or more for foster care while the homeless parent who lost their child due to homelessness received nothing.
I hope that in Angelo McClain, DSS will receive a Commissioner who understands good case work and supports that case work - rather than spending more on consultants than social workers as Commissioner Spence did.
According to testimony I heard at the House Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, Spence allocated $16 million in 2006 to outside consultants- who were no more than extra bureaucracy - and only $11 million for case work by all DSS social workers.
Under Spence, it was harder each year to get the services the children and parents I represented needed, no matter how much more money DSS received.
On behalf of the children and parents of the Commonwealth, I hope that Commissioner McClain will follow our statutes and have TEAM meetings to design Service Plans that meet the needs of families - under Commissioner Spence that never happened in all my years doing child welfare cases. Not once.