- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - State Treasurer Steven Grossman said if he were governor he would have accepted the resignation of the head of the embattled Department of Children and Families, putting him at odds with fellow Democrat, Gov. Deval Patrick.

Patrick said last week that DCF Commissioner Olga Roche had offered to step down, but he declined. Roche has come under fire after social workers lost track of a 5-year-old boy now feared dead.

Patrick has defended Roche, saying the focus should be on fixing any problems in the agency

“Had I been governor I would have accepted her resignation,” Grossman said Tuesday during an interview on WGBH-FM.

Grossman, a candidate for governor, said he then would have asked retired Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Chief Justice Margaret Marshall to help overhaul the agency.

“I probably would have picked up phone and called former Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and I would have said ‘Margie, I’d like you to come in here and work directly with me. I want you to oversee a reform agenda at DCF,’” Grossman said.

Grossman said he hadn’t discussed the idea with Marshall.

Other Democratic candidates for governor, including Attorney General Martha Coakley and Juliette Kayyem, have declined to criticize Patrick’s decision to keep Roche.

“You need someone at the helm and she has experience. And unless you have someone who’s ready to come in and turn this agency around, I’m not sure that’s the immediate solution,” Coakley said earlier this month when asked if Roche should be removed.

Kayyem, speaking on the same radio show last week, said, “I do not believe getting rid of Olga solves systemic problems we all know are happening at DCF.”

Republican candidate Charlie Baker has called for Roche’s resignation.

“The commissioner should step down, and we should find someone who can go into that job and put fresh eyes on it,” Baker said earlier this month.

Patrick, who is not seeking re-election, has enlisted the Child Welfare League of America to conduct a review of the agency.

Patrick has also sent a member of his inner circle and a team of experts to oversee changes at the child welfare agency as the agency grapples with the disappearance of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who hasn’t been seen by family members since last September.

Three DCF employees - a social worker, supervisor and area manager - were fired after an internal investigation. Officials said a social worker did not make required monthly visits to the family.

Jeremiah’s mother and her boyfriend have pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the case.

Two other Democrats, Don Berwick and Joseph Avellone, are also running for governor, as are three independent candidates: Jeff McCormick, Evan Falchuk, and Scott Lively.

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