Guest commentary: Children’s deaths reveal need for DCYF oversight

Guest commentary: Children’s deaths reveal need for DCYF oversight

Record-Journal
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To say that I am horrified by the death of so many children connected to DCYF would be an understatement, as I am sure it is for anyone else who has heard the same tragic news over the past couple of years.

At a recent House Oversight Committee meeting, it was revealed that over the past 26 months, 10 children who have been associated with the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families have died, eight of them under the age of 18 months old. This is beyond unacceptable.

The state’s child advocate, Jennifer Griffith, has painted an extremely disturbing picture of DCYF’s inability to protect these extremely vulnerable children and although she is new to the job, DCYF director Trista Piccola must act swiftly to correct this awful pattern and save more of our state’s children from preventable harm and death.

Ms. Griffith recommended numerous changes to DCYF to avoid further tragedy. I urge Ms. Piccola to follow and implement these recommendations down to the letter. DCYF has received numerous corrective recommendations in the past, yet we as a state have still failed these 10 deceased children over a very short period of time.

This is why I believe we need a permanent legislative committee to oversee DCYF and make sure every single recommendation is followed so that no more of our children die needlessly.

DCYF must be held accountable and we must provide its dedicated, but overworked professionals with the tools and support they need in order to care for and protect our children.

We as a society cannot afford to let our youngest and most vulnerable population slip through the cracks any longer and a permanent committee to watch over DCYF is sadly needed in order to prevent any further tragedies from occurring in the future.

Rep. Julie A. Casimiro represents District 31 in North Kingstown and Exeter.


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