Recently, I’ve been hearing from people urging me to take action to free Justina Pelletier from the custody of the Department of Children and Families and send her back to her parents. See the sample emails further below.
I’m certainly troubled by the story of Justina. It is always deeply saddening when DCF takes children away from their parents. However, it’s terribly important to remember that most of the recent complaints about DCF have involved cases where DCF failed to take a child away from abusive parents. I don’t feel that I know better than the judges, doctors, lawyers and social workers actually involved in the Pelletier case.
The sad truth is this: The Department of Children and Families is on the front lines dealing with the most difficult family situations in our society. They may be right, they may be wrong, but no matter how well they do their job, they will often inspire anger and occasionally do harm.
It’s a tough job. The agency is currently having a terrible time recruiting social workers willing to endure the criticism. They actually have many fewer applicants than they do vacancies right now.
The agency is getting plenty of oversight now from a whole host of directions — the Secretary of Health and Human Services has initiated a top to bottom review, the legislature is holding hearings.
And we all recognize we need to address the situation with more resources. The Governor has proposed to increase the agency’s funding, including $9.2 million for “capacity building” in his FY15 budget.
I do not sit on the legislature’s Committee on Children and Families. I feel that were I to plunge into the Pelletier controversy I would be out of my depth. I also feel that I might be piling on to an agency that needs more help not more criticism. Maybe I am missing something.
Some of the communications that I’ve received appear below. I always appreciate hearing from people and welcome additional communication on the issue.
Imagine if Justina was your daughter…
“Bottom line is, my daughter’s life is now at stake.” Lou Pelletier.
I am writing to ask you to support the resolution to release Justina Pelletier from DCF custody in Massachusetts. This is a deeply concerning situation that deserves swift action.
Please take the time to investigate this matter and offer your support. Additional co-sponsors are being accepted until Monday.
Thank you for your time.
As a parent living in your district, I hope that you are behind the effort to have hearings into the practices of the DCF and the Pelletier case in particular.
As a child welfare social worker, I am deeply concerned about the handling of Justina Pelletier’s case by DCF. I am writing to ask that you support the resolution to release Justina from DCF custody given that she has been traumatically separated from her family for the past year over nothing more than a dispute between doctors over her medical care. The fact that her health has substantially declined in DCF care though she was thriving under the care of her former physician and parents is evidence that DCF has made a gigantic mistep. Representative Lombardo is accepting additional co-sponsors of this resolution until Monday. Thank you for your time and dedication to ensuring this child’s suffering ends in DCF care.
According to the article below, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families is actively engaged in depriving the freedom and opportunity for medical services to a fifteen year old girl named Justina Pelletier.
The Boston Globe has concluded that “Justina (Pelletier) spent about a year in the locked psychiatric ward at Boston Children’s Hospital despite the objections of her parents and in conflict with a diagnosis from Tufts Medical Center doctors that the teen suffered from mitochondrial disorder…. Lou Pelletier said he and his wife have been only allowed to see their daughter on one-hour weekly supervised visits, first while she was in therapy at Boston Children’s psychiatric ward Bader 5, then at a residential treatment center in Framingham, Mass. They say her condition has deteriorated because the hospital has stopped all medical treatment for mitochondrial disease.”
Please let me get this straight. If two board-certified medical doctors disagree about the appropriate medical treatment of a child like Justina Pelletier, then the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families considers itself both authorized and sufficiently expert to side with one set of doctors and forcibly remove that child from the custody and protection of her parents and to commit her to a locked psychiatric ward for multiple years.
I would like to understand the ethical standards that permit this action and how it differs from the dictatorial and fascistic actions once prevalent in Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany and the current totalitarian government in control of North Korea. These actions, combined with the oppressive attempts to hinder public knowledge about them via a court directed “gag-order” on her parents, are very concerning and, in my opinion, need to be investigated at the federal level.
I am a resident of the Commonwealth with great concern over the year long battle for the custody of Justina Pelletier, resident of CT. Please Join Rep. Lyons, and Rep. Lombardo in a resolution to this unusual and disturbing case. Here is a link to recent news stories regarding this case currently before Judge Johnson, and involving our already embattled DCF system. http://foxct.com/local-news/investigations/stories/hospital-holds-west-hartford-girl-for-9-months/