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Mass. child advocate: Reforms still needed after Harmony Montgomery investigation

a poster of two photos of harmony montgomery, with a few small balloons floating above it
Casey McDermott
Adam Montgomery has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his 5-year-old daughter’s death.

Massachusetts’ child welfare watchdog says officials there have been too slow to make changes recommended in response to the Harmony Montgomery case.

In a new report, the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate says children’s needs are not being given enough weight in custody and protection cases. That’s despite a series of recommendations the office issued last year to address that.

“In particular, the OCA is concerned that the welfare and best interest of the child is not adequately presented in care and protection cases and that without some rebalancing of interests children will be put in unsafe situations,” the office said in the new report.

An investigation last year by the child advocate’s office found Massachusetts officials did not adequately prioritize Harmony Montgomery’s safety and well-being before she was sent to live with her father, Adam Montgomery, in Manchester. Adam Montgomery has since been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his 5-year-old daughter’s death.

The Massachusetts child advocate’s investigation found that “Harmony’s individual needs, wellbeing, and safety were not prioritized or considered on an equal footing with the assertion of her parents’ rights to care for her in any aspect of the decision making,” including the Massachusetts Division of Children and Family and the judge and lawyers involved in her case.

In its latest report, the office noted that many of its recommendations involve the judicial system and the entity that oversees indigent legal representation, which could be one reason for the slow pace of change.

Paul Cuno-Booth covers health and equity for NHPR. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Keene Sentinel, where he wrote about police accountability, local government and a range of other topics. He can be reached at
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