- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - Investigators returned Tuesday to a home west of Boston where two toddlers in foster care were found unresponsive over the weekend and one died.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early told reporters outside the Auburn duplex investigators were expected to be at the residence throughout the night as they executed a new search warrant.

He said the surviving 22-month-old girl remains in “dire” condition at a hospital, and toxicology tests on the 2-year-old girl who died were incomplete. He said investigators don’t yet know what happened.

The girls’ foster mother called 911 Saturday to report that the children were unresponsive.

Early said that so far the investigation isn’t considered criminal and no charges have been filed.

“It is an active and evolving situation,” Early told NECN television. “We are just going where the facts take us.”

The new search came as Gov. Charlie Baker said the state should consider broadening the review process for potential foster parents to include 911 calls.

Police have reported receiving more than two dozen 911 calls from the home since 2008. Baker said many of the calls were from the foster mother reporting problems in the neighborhood and shouldn’t be counted against her.

But the governor said that while 911 data hasn’t historically been part of the review process for would-be foster parents - a process that includes criminal background checks, interviews, and fingerprinting - that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be added to the vetting process in the future.

“In this day and age, that’s not hard data to collect and probably ought to become part of the process,” Baker told reporters.

Baker, a Republican, campaigned for governor in part by criticizing his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley for defending the state against a lawsuit brought by a New York children’s rights group, saying she should have settled the suit instead.

Now Baker finds himself under scrutiny following the death of the girl and the case of a Hardwick man charged last month with starving and beating his 7-year-old son, who remains in a long-term care facility. The state Department of Children and Families had been involved with the family.

In 2013, state social workers lost track of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy whose body was later found along the side of a highway.

Baker said Tuesday that unlike the Oliver case, there was a lot of oversight in both recent cases and a lot of “eyes on the kids.” But he acknowledged that improvements still need to be made.

“I know people are working hard, and I know they’re trying to do their best, but clearly we have to do better,” he said. “The goal here is that this doesn’t happen. I think we should aspire to that.”

The Department of Children and Families said six children lived in the Auburn home, including another foster child and the mother’s three children. All were taken into state care Saturday.

Officials said the apartment has been licensed as a foster home since last year and six other foster children had previously lived there.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said Monday that her office has begun an internal investigation. She said that since December 2013 there has been a 30 percent increase in the cases being handled by the DCF, the highest ever.

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