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Department of Children and Families: #FREEJUSTINA

justinaBy now, most if not all of America has heard about the plight of Justina Pelletier.  If you haven’t heard about her yet or don’t know the facts behind her case then please take time to read my article, “Justice for Justina: Was the State Right in Taking Her?” before it’s too late.

You will learn from reading the article about the involvement in her case of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and their subsequent removal of Justina from her parents’ care once the hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, filed a report with DCF alleging “medical child abuse” by Justina’s parents.  To date, Justina has not been allowed to return to the custody and care of her family but remains under the control of the hospital and DCF.

I wanted to learn more about DCF so I began delving into their reputation.  What I discovered was not what I expected to find. I was also not expecting to be outraged!

In 2010, Children’s Rights, a New York based non-profit organization, advocating for the rights of children, filed a class-action lawsuit against DCF.  Children’s Rights alleges that thousands of children in DCF’s care suffered neglect, abuse, and even death in some instances.

More specifically, in the class-action lawsuit of Connor B. vs. Patrick, Children’s Rights represents 8,500 children who were allegedly abused or neglected while in DCF’s care.

The lawsuit:

“Charges the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) with violating the constitutional rights of children by routinely placing them in dangerous and unstable situations once removed from their parents’ care and failing to take necessary actions to meet the legal obligation of the state-run child welfare system to ensure the safety and well-being of children in its custody.”

The plaintiffs in the Connor B. case raised “concerns about the workload of social workers, .., and the safety, care, and well-being of foster care children and youth.”  The case is still moving through the judicial system as of this date.

I also discovered that 95 children have died since 2001 while under the care of DCF. However, it is believed that the number is actually much higher because the State did not report numbers of deaths between the years of 2011 to 2013.

african american childThe tragic reports of the children who suffered are heart wrenching.  Repeated warnings to DCF about child abuse fell on deaf ears in some instances.  Another incident concludes that a child was killed after DCF failed to take the appropriate actions, and yet another report states that a child under DCF’s care is still missing.

A report in 2010 showed that over all, children receiving services under the care of DCF social workers were about six times as likely as the general population of Bay State children to die from maltreatment, according to the state’s own records.  DCF was quick to point out that this was no surprise, however, since they serviced those populations where the children were at a higher risk to die from abuse or neglect.  Doesn’t that describe the population that a child protective agency serves in general?  What if all child protective agencies felt the same way as DCF about their statistics?

I also discovered a report by an attorney who wrote an article in 2012 about Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and DCF with eerily similar facts to those of Justina Pelletier’s case.  It appears that the attorney represented several parents that had children with “serious but controversial diagnoses” who were in BCH and wound up being investigated by the hospital’s Child Protection Team and DCF.

He cites one instance in which the parents brought their child to the hospital just to be tested for mitochondria.  The child had not been under the care of a doctor for an extended period of time as in Justina’s case and the parents were merely trying to rule out mitochondria.  Justina had been under a doctor’s care at Tuft’s Medical Center for approximately 1 ½ years and he was treating her for mitochondrial disease.

Due to an internal battle within the hospital team, the attorney’s client’s case was turned over to the hospital’s Child Protective Team and the mother was accused of Munchausen by Proxy.  In other words, they were claiming that the child was not really ill but that the mother was making him ill in order to garner attention from others.

Olga Roche CommissionerAlthough the case was turned over to DCF, the outcome was better than what has occurred thus far in Justina’s case.  Fortunately, for the family, the attorney happened to know the social worker well and had worked with her in the past on other cases.  Over several weeks, the child began to improve on antibiotics and was subsequently released to the parents’ custody.

I also discovered that a new lawsuit has recently been filed in January 2014 against DCF for the wrongful death of a toddler.  In that case, the plaintiff alleges that DCF ignored her warnings of abuse of her great-nephew by his mother.  Although, DCF had temporarily removed the child from his mother’s custody, he was subsequently returned to her.   As a result, he died from blunt-force trauma.  He further suffered from contusions of the liver, stomach, and colon, as well as internal bleeding.

It would appear that DCF has a number of issues within its organization that deserve close scrutiny.  Perhaps their governor will become involved to determine what is actually happening within the walls of DCH.  In the meantime, if you or someone you know believes that DCF has failed in their responsibilities to care for children that have been removed from the parents/guardians and placed within DCF’s custody, a complaint can be filed by contacting

Perhaps Mr. Pelletier, Justina’s father will want to look into reporting DCF to this agency and filing a complaint on Justina’s behalf.


Note:  Susan Knowles is an author, psychotherapist and former practicing attorney.  Her latest book, a politicalFreedom's Fight fiction, is entitled, “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember” available on    Her website is

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30 Comments on Department of Children and Families: #FREEJUSTINA

  1. Thanks for this story. Such an empty feeling since learning about this poor child. Please keep writing on her behal.

  2. Blunt Truth // 24 February, 2014 at 6:20 pm //

    People its time to finally stand up to the so called authority and take are country back through rallies telling the truth and voting for the right candidate. Please America, wake up before it’s to late…YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU !!!

  3. Ban Socialism, Liberals, but not brainless idiots.

  4. I agree with Blunt Truth it is time the people of America wake up. I’m so tired of hearing people be upset over so many things. Those same people are the ones who have just let numerous upon numerous things go wrong when they had/have the power to change those things when many of us do not.
    We had better wake up because there isn’t much time left to defeat all the stupidity that has gone on for many years now and its about time we stop it happening.

    Free Justina, I think instead of Justina’s parents suing all the people and agency’s involved it should be turned into a class action law suit because what is being done with how many of these children including Justina and th many more ahead that they can do it to any of us so lets all everyone one of us sue. This way we are standing with the parents and stop in the tracks the wicked people who see dollar signs and quotas!

  5. This is a act that even God can not put up with. The Des Thant are doing this to this child should be locked up.

  6. it is time to clean house at that hospital and also get information on every child that has ever gone through this terror. this is like nazi type of activity. i would of never believed this has happened in the US.

  7. When I first heard of this case, I thought there must be more to it. Surely in America an institution can’t just take a child away because of a whim. Is it truly because the hospital wants to study Justina? What is the other side of the story? This is America for God’s sake.

  8. Bluewatergirlie // 29 March, 2014 at 5:30 pm //

    This is power mongering. This is gross abuse by government. Where is our President? Where is the Governor? Parents have rights to go anywhere they want to investigate illness! Shame on Boston Children’s Hospital. Shame on that neurologist who is playing God for a study program. Make a note, don’t go to that hospital.

  9. Barbara Somers // 29 March, 2014 at 5:30 pm //

    Let’s get her back to her parents, where she rightfully belongs.

  10. As a twenty two year Army veteran who served to protect our rights I am disgusted with what the court has done to those parents and their daughter. This is the kind of stuff that brings rebellions. God Bless them.

  11. This is an outrage! Please do the right thing and let her be with her parents!

  12. robert bocellari // 29 March, 2014 at 5:32 pm //

    free Juatina

  13. Kathlyn Scafone // 29 March, 2014 at 5:32 pm //

    How can you allow this to go on? I have been a social worker for 26 years, post-master’s degree, and I have worked closely with many parents who had open cases due to various reasons and who lost custody of their children. This case against tyhe parents is an abuse of power! Shame, shame, shame.

  14. Terry Schwartz // 29 March, 2014 at 5:34 pm //

    This is the most abusive case of infringement of parental authority ever. The hospital and so-called doctors responsible as well as the State of Mass. should be sued and jailed-long term. If the little girl dies there should be charges of murder. This sounds like Nazi Germany. Free this young girl you bastards.

  15. every single person involved in taking justina away from her family should be put in jail for 20 yrs with no parole . I cant believe that this is being done to her and her family .

  16. arrest the GESTAPO of Mass. arrested @ confined for life.

  17. What do you think your doing to this girl and her parents. Isn’t this America!

  18. LOWELL WOODMAN // 29 March, 2014 at 6:18 pm //



  19. william pollard // 29 March, 2014 at 7:48 pm //

    Parents have the right to choose whats best for their children, what care they need etc. This right is above governm ent intervention in the ordinary daily business of guiding their children. What happened to Justine is hard to understand and looks like a crime has taken place, it is time to open up this to the light of day. People wanted to free Willy, I say Free Justine. Send her back to her family.God Speed Justine and her Family.

  20. Corena Barber // 30 March, 2014 at 1:04 am //

    Big suit, huge suit hold the state departments, the governor, sue federal level, hospital ,medical, educational licensees, to teach, withhold money ,provide sanctions to all involved in the educational, medical and state and federal health human services agencies and departments. The department receives federal and state monies, those funds intentions have been abandoned, heavy repercussions return the child and disburse all funds for damages to the family and Justina for the absolute damages caused to her and her family. The Department of health and human services nation wide causes damages , many, many families children have become victimized by the department ,the original intention of the department was to protect children and families from bad teachers doctors ministers and the occasional bad parent, in our country children and parents are diagnosed by psycho-ceramic edu-babbling tapeworms that feed off of people, every state city town municipal county that is in receipt of any health and human service monies is funding an aggressive specious organization …

  21. get rid of that judge & all the people involved in her takeover

  22. H.C.Gibson // 30 March, 2014 at 8:39 pm //

    The judge needs to be disbarred and the girl sent home to her family. I can not believe this is happening in the USA. Why doesn’t Obama speak to this?

  23. Stefanie Membrila // 30 March, 2014 at 8:42 pm //

    I had a multi disabled child that had to go to the hospital a lot. Luckily the hospital didn’t treat me in the horrible way they have treated Justina and the Pelletiers. The parents took great care of their daughter and I believe the State is trying to take her life. God will not look favorably on what they have done to this family and their daughter. I can’t believe this is happening in America! I will pray for the safe return of their daughter. My daughter is in Heaven now because her heart gave out at age 22. But if she is looking down at us, I am sure she is as saddened by this horrible situation. DCF needs to go after abusers who hide away their deeds, not innocent families of children who try to get help for their child who have a fragile health condition.

  24. If I was a betting man I’d think that judge and DCF were bought and paid for by BCH!

  25. paul &Dorothy Pressnall // 31 March, 2014 at 1:59 pm //

    Free Justina, she should be with her parents. There is no qwuestion about this. We can’t believe this is happening in our United States of America. Paul and Dorothy.March 31,2014

  26. Henry & Betty Kamisato // 31 March, 2014 at 4:04 pm //

    Big government knows best until something tragic happens and no one in big government will take responsibility. Parents have and will take that responsibility for their for their family.
    Henry and Betty–3-31-14

  27. Laura Reeves // 2 April, 2014 at 6:20 pm //

    This is appalling, when did we become a police state. YOU are the ones breaking many laws. Who the hell do you think you are? Put this girl back with her family!

  28. Clint Carbon // 3 April, 2014 at 11:07 am //

    I am of course appalled by what has happened to the Pettetier family. But I firmly believe that this country is no longer what it used to be, and that if the current “President” is not impeached by a cooperative Congress, we will continue to go straight to Hades, from which there will be no return. I suspect that the Obama administration (maladministration?) has everything to do with the treatment of this family, and others like it.

    Look at the current chief executive’s continual lies. Look at his reducing the armed forces to pre-WWII levels! Look at his background, for Pete’s sake! That should have told everyone right at the start that he was completely unqualified for the position.

    And I’m not sure that voter fraud was not used in great proportion to the total vote in the last two Presidential elections.

    And I’m not sure that the chief executive has America’s greatness at heart. I think he wants to reduce the United States to a position of weakness. He and his lovely spouse may be wanting to punish us for owning and mistreating slaves prior to the civil war, which of course occurred before any of us. Also mistreatment of blacks up to quite recent times. But surely most of that had gone away before Obama revived all of it. (He’s only half black, by the way.)

    I suggest that we all pray every night that our “impeachable” chief executive be impeached very soon, BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!

  29. You know when people from Children’s Service’s are born they have no heart, soul, or brain. their head is filled with green water that is why they are employed there. I know what the “ass” in Massachusetts stands for.

  30. Clint Carbon // 8 April, 2014 at 11:08 am //

    I wrote a comment on the 3rd of April, and I’d like to make a correction: Change the word “impeachable” in the last paragraph to ‘ “UNimpeachable” ‘. That is what I meant and it makes a lot more sense that way.

    Oh! By the way, did you hear that Putin is visiting Iran and Syria? What a coincidence, huh?

    … Do you think Putin would be doing such a thing if the United States had a Reagan in the Oval Office?

    God, I feel so safe with Goody-two-shoes in the Oval Office.

    Don’t you?

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