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Mass. ranks low in children’s welfare

Elsa Oliver — mother of Jeremiah Oliver, 5, who is feared dead — entered district court in Fitchburg for a hearing in January. She faced charges of reckless endangerment of a child.
Elsa Oliver — mother of Jeremiah Oliver, 5, who is feared dead — entered district court in Fitchburg for a hearing in January. She faced charges of reckless endangerment of a child.Brett Crawford/Sentinel & Enterprise/Associated Press

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Massachusetts is used to being near the top in national rankings -- from education to health care to technological innovation. But when it comes to protecting vulnerable children from mistreatment, the state has languished closer to the bottom for years, according to watchdog groups and an assortment of federal data. Case workers check on children in foster care or potentially abusive homes less frequently. Kids in foster care are moved around more often, disrupting their lives. And children who have already been abused or neglected are more likely to be mistreated again. Though not perfect, the child welfare numbers Massachusetts reported to the federal government were so dismal that a Florida watchdog group rated the state’s child welfare system 50th out of 50 states.

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