DCF clears 557 convicts to live with foster kids in ‘13/ Boston Herald.com
The state’s embattled child welfare agency admitted there are at least 475 convicted criminals now living in foster homes that care for at-risk kids, according to stunning data for 2013 released to the Herald last night.
The Department of Children and Families — already under fire from lawmakers — cleared the unnamed cons despite their checkered pasts.
DCF did not share the same data for previous years.
The department’s decision to release the report after the close of business on a Friday came after a Herald report this week showing criminals with convictions for more than 100 offenses, including drug trafficking, armed assault and inducing sex from a minor, could be cleared as foster parents.
The DCF data for 2013 states:
• In total, 557 waivers were granted to people with convictions ranging from misdemeanors to felonies to live in homes with foster children;
• Of those, 475 currently live with foster children, accounting for roughly 9 percent of the state’s total of 5,430 foster homes;
• Additionally, 77 people with arrest records, but no convictions, live in active foster homes; and
• Overall, DCF granted waivers to 650 of 661 people with rap sheets who applied last year, a more than 98 percent approval rate.
Among those given waivers, five people were personally approved by the commissioner and two other high-ranking DCF brass despite having rap sheets that fall on the agency’s most serious list of offenses, which includes murder, rape and indecent assault and battery on a child, among more than 30 other crimes.
One of those is an active foster home, and involves a man who committed crimes in his teens and close to a decade later was approved to be the foster father for his step-daughter, according to DCF. State officials did not say what crimes he or any of the others given waivers in 2013 had committed.
State Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) — chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, which is investigating DCF polices and procedures — said he’ll wait to draw conclusions on the numbers when the department coughs up more details.
“I expect to go back to DCF and ask for more specific data,” he told the Herald last night.
A DCF official said 97 percent of all felony convictions took place more than a decade ago, and none have sex crimes.
“The department uses a standard, well- defined process outlined by regulations and law to review these cases,” DCF spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen said.
“The safety of a child is DCF’s first priority when decisions are made about their placement, and the department promotes kinship placements where appropriate to keep families strong.”
This story was first reported on bostonherald.com.