A state audit released Thursday found that the Massachusetts' child welfare agency failed to report rapes, abuse and serious injuries committed against children under its care.
The audit said from 2014 to 2015, the Department of Children and Families was unaware of 260 incidents of what appeared to be serious bodily injury to children in its care.
The report says some "critical incidents" involving children the agency was aware of should have been reported to district attorneys for possible prosecution, but were not.
Sudders argued the audit also doesn't reflect the importance of so-called "mandated reporters" a teachers, physicians and police officers who report allegations of child abuse or neglect.
These incidents included two male employees at different DCF-contracted residential facilities who sexually abused three girls each; a 10-year-old who was raped by his father; a 4-year-old who was sexually abused by her mother; and a 17-year-old who was gang-raped by five assailants.
"The information in this audit is not current as it began four years ago during the prior administration, and the Baker-Polito Administration began implementing a comprehensive overhaul of DCF reforms in 2015 to support the Commonwealth's most vulnerable children".
"How can the agency not consider sexual abuse a serious injury to a child?" The report also found that social workers didn't know children they were monitoring had been badly hurt.
Sudders, a social worker, said she is "disappointed" Bump is taking the information from the two years of the audit period and applying it to the agency as it now stands. Instead of getting data from sources like MassHealth - which enrolls all children in DCF care - the agency relied on others to notify them of any injuries or incidents. But state Auditor Suzanne Bump yesterday pointed out areas where the agency may still be falling short.
According to the department, they're seeking to streamline the child fatality reporting process as a way to get more timely reports to the Office of the Child Advocate. "The Speaker's office has reached out to the Office of the Child Advocate to consider next steps". "DCF regularly conducts trainings for mandated reporters across the state and offers online trainings developed by local District Attorneys to encourage reporting for any instance of suspected abuse or neglect among children".
"We agree with Auditor Bump that DCF must be constantly and rigorously evaluated to ensure the safety of the children in its care, and the safety of the workers that provide that care", said Peter MacKinnon, president of SEIU Local 509.