7 Investigates: Social worker trying to clear her name after DCF accusation

BOSTON (WHDH) - A social worker is trying to clear her name after the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families accused her of negligence.

The social worker, who did not want to be identified told 7 Investigates, “I don’t think that they are trying to figure out the truth of this case. I appear to be a scapegoat for a bigger issue.”

In 2018, she escorted a troubled teen from Boston Children’s Hospital to the state-approved group home where the girl lived.

5 days later, workers found needles in a Boston Children’s Hospital bag under the teen’s bed.

“I am not to blame and I am not at fault in this case,” says the social worker.

She told DCF investigators that she carefully checked the teen and her bags at the time, and there were no needles.

“I was with the client the entire time during my shifts to supervise her, I searched her belongings prior to leaving and I safely brought her back to the program,” says the social worker. “I did everything that I was supposed to do and everything that I was asked to do. I wouldn’t do anything differently.”

Patricia Brady is an independent child welfare expert who used to work as a DCF investigator. She’s helping the social worker’s legal team.

Brady says DCF’s investigation gave conflicting details about where the needles were found. The report even mentioned another teen who also visited the hospital may be responsible. If so another staff member would be responsible for not finding the needles.

“A bag of needles is discovered, under a bed, in a room with 3 other girls, doors are opened, there are other residents in the facility,” says Brady.

Brady felt the investigation was so unfair, she emailed someone at DCF for answers.

According to Brady, that person responded by saying: “there was no concrete information provided to establish that reported child, obtained the medical supplies during her stay at Boston Children’s Hospital.”

“She shared with me that she didn’t think this particular social worker should have been held responsible or negligent,” says Brady.

7 Investigates reached out to Boston Children’s Hospital, asking if they had information about the needles.

A hospital spokesperson said “Based on our review of our records from the past five years, there has been no finding against Boston Children’s Hospital by DCF. ”

Brady says that’s significant because if DCF found a child had taken needles from a hospital, the agency would have filed a finding of neglect against that hospital.

“We don’t know where those needles came from or when. And those are important determining factors,” says Brady.

Brady believes DCF owes the social worker an apology and should clear her name and her record.

The woman no longer works at the group home. She is appealing DCF’s decision to hold her negligent.

“I will not be able to do the work that I love and I really can’t imagine doing anything else, so it’s hard,” says the social worker.

7 Investigates asked DCF to answer our questions about the investigation or share their report. They declined, citing privacy laws.

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