By a large margin, the Massachusetts Senate approved an amendment last week that imposes a six-month temporary moratorium on the Department of Children and Families' placement in foster homes of any individuals or family members convicted of a felony unless an investigation finds that the placement poses no threat to the safety of the child.
The amendment also requires the state to examine all existing foster care placements to ensure each placement is appropriate and the child is safe.
Amendment supporters said current DCF policies do not automatically disqualify prospective foster parents who have been convicted of crimes such as soliciting sex from a minor, possessing "obscene pornographic" material and assault and battery and instead allows them to seek a waiver.
They cited recent media reports that there are currently 552 homes caring for children where the guardian has a prior criminal conviction.
Amendment opponents said the state commissioned the Child Welfare League of America to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the state's foster care system. They urged a comprehensive solution to solve the many problems at the troubled DCF.
The proponent view held.
So often, we as citizens of this nation make assumptions about things that seem obvious. For instance, we in Massachusetts believed that children who are under the watchful eye of the state are taken care of. Recent news reports of a missing boy, believed dead, and a report that places Massachusetts dead last in the care of its most vulnerable children have yanked open our trusting eyes.
Should those convicted of soliciting sex from a minor, possessing "obscene pornographic" material and assault and battery care for children unfortunate enough to end up in foster care? Need we even ask?
Given the money we spend on children in all its forms, we must not accept the decisions of those who would lose track of a child in their care or allow a pornographer to be a foster parent.