Massachusetts Lawmakers Propose Harmony Commission to Investigate Child Welfare System

by Patrick Wilson

September 27, 2023

BOSTON – Massachusetts lawmakers on Wednesday proposed the creation of the Harmony Commission, a new body that would be tasked with investigating the state’s child welfare system and developing recommendations for reform.

The commission is named after Harmony Montgomery, a five-year-old girl who went missing in Manchester, New Hampshire in 2019. Harmony was in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) at the time of her disappearance.

The proposed commission would be made up of 15 members, including experts in child welfare, law, and law enforcement. The commission would have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, and it would be required to issue a report with its findings and recommendations within one year.

The proposal for the Harmony Commission comes after a series of reports that have criticized the Massachusetts child welfare system for failing to protect vulnerable children. In 2021, the Office of the Child Advocate issued a report that found that DCF had failed to adequately investigate Harmony’s case.

The proposed commission is supported by a number of advocacy groups, including the Massachusetts Children’s Trust and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. The groups say that the commission is necessary to identify and address the problems in the Massachusetts child welfare system.

The proposal for the Harmony Commission is expected to be considered by the Massachusetts legislature in the coming weeks.

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