Massachusetts House Bill 4191 An "Act Relative to Child Abuse and Neglect" is scheduled for public hearing tomorrow (9/26/07, 10:30 a.m. in room 222) by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.
Though the bill fixes several of the issues of lack of real oversight highlighted by the Haleigh Poutre case, too much of the lack of oversight, dearth of definitions, confusing language and lack of due process for families in the current statute are left essentially untouched. What tries to look like major overhaul of the whole statutory scheme is really just a minor tune up of a small portion of what really affects families involved with the child protection system.
I am afraid that passage of the bill in its entirety will make it appear that thoughtful consideration was given by the legislature to the troubling issues that are really not addressed.
I call on Senator Spilka, Rep. Coakley-Rivera and the rest of their committee to recommend passage of the new oversight and second opinion provisions of H. 4191 but to remove the portions that merely restate the existing sections of chapter 18B and 119 until a comprehensive review and restructuring particularly recognizing parents' rights, due process, probable cause and true judicial oversight of DSS or the Department of Children and Families can be accomplished.