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New Hampshire's child protection agency is responding to the state's drug crisis with new policies requiring greater intervention when infants and toddlers are at risk.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers met Friday to discuss policy changes to better protect at-risk kids. The effort comes on the heels of an outside review that faulted the state’s child protection agency. 

The Child Protection Act applies to cases when there’s clear evidence of child abuse or neglect, but a special legislative commission hopes to introduce a middle step between unfounded and founded reports of abuse. John DeJoie, with Child and Family Services, was part of a group that suggested another option for state health officials.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 17, 2017

Mar 17, 2017

Confusion reigns at town halls across the state as a nor'easter hits on Town Meeting Day.  The N.H. Senate examines bills reforming the state's Division of Children and Youth.  This follows a report that the head of DCYF closed hundreds of cases of suspected abuse over a two-day period last year.  And N.H.'s congressional delegation, along with Governor Chris Sununu, oppose the Republican healthcare plan.


PEXELS.COM

A bill that would create a statewide child advocacy office got the full support of the New Hampshire Senate Thursday.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu says the head of the state's child protective services division has been placed on administrative leave, following a report that more than 1,500 cases of suspected abuse and neglect were closed over a two-day period last year.

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The outgoing Director of the Division of Children, Youth and Families says public scrutiny of her agency’s shortcomings could provide opportunities to improve the state’s child safety network.

Casey McDermott/NHPR

The head of the state's Division of Children, Youth and Families is stepping down after three years on the job. The  news comes just weeks after an outside review delivered a tough report of the agency's work. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Top New Hampshire house budget writers had blunt questions for the expert hired to review policy at the state's child protection agency.

N.H. Lawmakers to Hear Overview on Problems at DCYF

Jan 23, 2017
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers this week will hear about a report released last month which shed a bad light on the state’s child protective services. 

Pexels.com

An agency under fire, under staffed, and under review: That's how a recent report describes the situation at the state's Division of Children Youth and Families.  It reveals an agency in crisis: too few social workers and inadequate training, compounded by weak laws that leave children under-protected. We ask how officials and lawmakers will address this.


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

An effort to get rid of the legislature's Committee on Children and Family Law fell flat in the House Wednesday. Lawmakers rejected the proposal, 172 votes to 196.

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An independent report on New Hampshire’s Division of Children, Youth and Families says the state falls short of its obligation to protect abused and neglected children.

The report puts the responsibility for fixing that broken system – and protecting New Hampshire’s most vulnerable residents – in the hands of lawmakers. 

An outside review of New Hampshire’s child protective services agency, the Division of Children Youth and Families, identified a number of red flags in how abuse and neglect reports are handled.

Outside reviewers found that many cases reported to the agency were not brought forward for further action, even when the agency’s own assessments found that kids were at high risk of harm.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: December 16, 2016

Dec 15, 2016

Join us for the top Granite State headlines this week, including N.H. political races caught up in revelations about Russian hacking.  Another grim record set as drug deaths in the state reach nearly 400.  And the state seeks to have a suit against DCYF dismissed in a child abuse case.

GUESTS:

  • Casey McDermott, NHPR digital reporter.
  • Ella Nilsen, Concord Monitor reporter.
  • Dave Solomon, Union Leader reporter.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The adoptive parents of two children who were sexually abused are suing the Division of Children, Youth, and Families, arguing the state agency didn’t do enough to protect the victims even after social workers became involved.

The lawsuit also names Easter Seals New Hampshire, a non-profit contracted to provide supervision during parental visits.

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 A report on the state's Division of Children, Youth and Families points to an immediate need to add more staff.

WWW.GOFUNDME.COM/JUSTICEFORBRIELLE

A judge in Nashua has found the mother of three-year-old Brielle Gage guilty of second-degree murder.

Brielle Gage died of blunt-force injuries in 2014 shortly after the state placed the child in the care of her mother, who was facing child abuse charges at the time. Gage's death has become a rallying point for those seeking to reform the state's troubled foster care system.

Michael Brindley, NHPR

 A legislative commission tasked with reviewing child deaths in New Hampshire is seeking advice from a former head of the Massachusetts child advocacy office.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House Wednesday backed a measure that would allow the state Division of Children, Youth and Families to investigate parents suspected of having an opioid dependence. 

As written, the bill would exempt parents currently involved in treatment or actively seeking treatment.  

Democrat Skip Berrien of Exeter said this bill would ensure that DCYF can offer services before problems escalate.

NHPR Staff

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on whether a lawsuit over the state’s handling of child abuse and neglect cases should be open to the public.

The details of these types of lawsuits are almost always sealed by court order.

But attorneys for an adoptive family of two young victims of sexual abuse told the court that the case should be heard in open court.

All Things Considered host Peter Biello spoke with NHPR digital reporter Brian Wallstin, who has reported on this case and attended the hearing at the Supreme Court.

Michael Brindley/NHPR

  A state commission has given the green light to an interim plan that will provide around-the-clock coverage at the state Division of Children, Youth and Families.

The Commission of Child Abuse Fatalities unanimously approved the proposal Monday.

The commission was formed to examine issues within DYCF, which came under scrutiny following the recent deaths of two young children.

The $1.8 million plan re-purposes existing state money to hire 18 new child protective workers and supervisors to cover nights and weekends.

Courtesy photo

The vote to hire the Maryland-based Center for the Support of Families to evaluate operations at DCYF was unanimous.

This review will cost $223,000 dollars. It follows earlier reviews by lawmakers and the Attorney General's office.

All that focus follows some big problems at DCYF, including the death of 3-year-old Brielle Gage of Nashua.

Gage died of blunt force trauma in 2014 -- after child-protection workers returned Gage and 4 siblings to their mother and her boyfriend even though the couple faced child-abuse charges.

Jonathan Cohen via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/78H5Sy

New Hampshire's child protection division is proposing adding a second shift and a new on-call system as a first step toward being able to respond to allegations 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

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