Increased abuse reported among children in state care

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Nearly 200 children in state care suffered abuse or neglect in 2014, according to the latest report released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate.

In 2014, the office investigated 633 allegations of abuse or neglect, an 18 percent increase since 2013. This figure includes multiple allegations of mistreatment of a single victim. The office found that 184 children in state custody had been abused or neglected. Of these, 117 were in foster care.

In August, a 2-year-old girl was found unresponsive in an Auburn apartment and later died. Another toddler from the same foster home remains in critical condition. The case is currently before a grand jury. To date, no charges have been filed against the foster mother.

Child Advocate Gail Garinger, who will be stepping down on on Sept. 11 after seven years in the position, in part blames lack of resources.

“We must do better, if we want our children to be safe and to thrive,” she wrote in the report. “Even the best organized and managed child-serving agency will fail if its staff is overwhelmed. It is the responsibility of the governor and the legislature to ensure that sufficient resources are available.”

She told WBUR that although it’s premature to call this an increase in incidents, the office has “a long way to go.”

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or @karabettis