The Department of Children and Families is removing children at risk of abuse from their families at a higher rate than in the past under new directives by Commissioner Olga I. Roche following the disappearance of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy in the agency's care.
The agency has filed 42 care and protection petitions in Worcester, Milford, Dudley, Leominster and Fitchburg courts. Juvenile court judges will decide if a child has been or is at risk, whether the guardian is unfit to care for the child and who will have custody.
Jeremiah Oliver has not been seen by relatives since September, but police only recently learned of the disappearance.
Roche's directive to improve the safety net includes a promise to secure money to hire staff.