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Boston and Beyond

February 22, 2014

Patrick: Olga Roche resignation not in best interests of children

BOSTON - Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche made it “clear” to Gov. Deval Patrick that she would step down if he asked, the governor said, but Patrick does not believe that would be helpful, citing her experience in the child protective services field.

“If I thought it served the best interests of the children to ask for her resignation, I would ask for her resignation, but I don’t think it does,” Patrick said during an “Ask the Governor” segment on WGBH yesterday afternoon.

The agency has been under criticism since it was revealed a 5-year-old boy named Jeremiah Oliver disappeared while under purported DCF watch.

Asked if she’d offered to step down if Patrick loses confidence, the governor said, “Yeah, She’s been very clear about that.”

An administration official said there had not been a formal offer of resignation.

Patrick also said the commissioner would receive support for dealing with lawmakers and the media “so she can focus on managing the agency.”

Lawyers are determining if the agency can be “more forthcoming” on some issues, Patrick said. He said he didn’t see the utility in her resignation. Last week 24 lawmakers called on Patrick to seek Roche’s resignation, which prompted more than a dozen child welfare experts to issue statements supporting her.

“In any public management position, you’re going to have deal from time to time with mob mentality. Serious issues where people rally around a quick or simple fix like the call for Commissioner Roche’s resignation. Nobody’s asked the second question: What exactly does that or would that solve?” Patrick asked. He said, “Olga Roche is somebody with 30 years of experience in child welfare. She’s been commissioner for 15 minutes, basically – she hasn’t been commissioner for very long.”

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