- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray called on the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families to resign Monday, citing a lack of leadership and the recent deaths of two children under agency supervision, including one over the weekend.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who has defended DCF Commissioner Olga Roche, said Monday he no longer has confidence in the department and said Roche “has some questions to answer for me.”

The two top Democratic lawmakers, DeLeo and Murray, said Roche needs to step down now. The death of one of the children has led to a dispute over a missing fax.

“We can’t wait until the end of the year. We can’t wait for a new governor,” DeLeo said. “We have to take action now.”

Murray issued a statement saying , “In combination with Commissioner Roche’s resignation, we need to make sure we are bringing someone in to turn this agency around.”

The comments put added pressure on Patrick to replace Roche. A spokesman for Roche declined to comment on demands that she resign.

On Monday, Patrick said he was as upset as anyone about the deaths, including that of a third child under DCF supervision, 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver.

“I don’t have confidence at this point in the agency and I’m very worried about the agency,” Patrick said. “My confidence in the whole organization has been rattled.”

Patrick said he wants to make sure any action he takes “actually does something other than just throwing another scalp to the public.”

“The question is how do we get to the solution, and I’m not confident that that is an adequate solution but she has some questions to answer for me,” Patrick said of Roche.

Authorities say the family of a Fitchburg baby who died over the weekend was being monitored by state child welfare officials. They say 2-week old Bailey Irish was brought to the hospital on Saturday morning by her parents. She was pronounced dead a short time later.

In an unrelated case, a DCF spokeswoman says a fax from Grafton police about possible harm to another infant who later died, 4-week-old Aliana Lavigne, was misplaced for six days.

The agency said it’s unacceptable that the fax went undiscovered. The department is trying to determine the best method of communicating reports electronically, including linking faxes up to email for more timely delivery.

But the agency also said mandated reporters are required to verbally report allegations of abuse or neglect to DCF - something they said police failed to do.

The Grafton police chief acknowledged police should have called DCF, but also defended his officers, saying the agency is trying to deflect blame.

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