A new report Tuesday describes disturbing conditions facing many foster kids in Massachusetts. Just two weeks after a scathing audit on the Department of Children and families, this federal report found troubling safety issues at stake contracted group homes.
The photos are not pleasant, showing about two dozen examples of what a federal audit by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General concludes are failed health and safety standards at 27 of 30 group foster homes that were inspected in May 2016.
Maria Moussaides, who formerly ran residential programs, is now with the independently-run Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate. She was not surprised by missing window screens and holes in walls - something she says can happen on any day in a group home.
More concerning were the moldy mattresses and cleaning supplies left out in the open -- conditions the regional inspector general says are concerning and unacceptable for children.
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"Our report findings of unsanitary and dangerous living conditions for these foster children in Massachusetts are clearly very serious," the inspector general said in a statement. "We are gratified that the state has agreed to address these health and safety problems. All of these vulnerable children deserve to live in a safe, healthy environment."
State and child welfare officials say they have been working with the group homes and private contractors, and that many of the problems have been fixed.
"It was a good audit," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. "Our people took all the recommendations to heart and implemented all of them shortly after the audit finding things were issued - and in fact, had most of the reforms in place before the final report was even published."