Death of Fitchburg Infant Investigated as Scrutiny of DCF Intensifies

APRIL 29,2014- BOSTON, MA- Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary John Polanowicz,;left, and Gov Deval Patrick,right, listen to the newly appointed interim DCF head Erin Deveney during a press conference announcing Olga Roche's resignation as DCF chief and Deveney filling in as interim chief for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Tuesday morning. ( globe staff photo :Joanne Rathe section: metro reporter: topic:30 dcf)
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary John Polanowicz (left) and Governor Deval Patrick (right) listened to the newly appointed interim DCF head Erin Deveney during a press conference announcing Olga Roche's resignation as DCF chief.
Joanne Rathe/Globe staff

The mother of a Fitchburg newborn that died while the family was involved with the Department of Children and Families has denied any abuse in the baby’s death, WCVB TV reports.

While the death of Bailey Irish is under investigation by the Worcester County District Attorney's Office, the girl's mother, Charis Irish, told NewsCenter 5's Phil Lipof that she and her husband, Travis, are good parents who did not harm the child.

"I had nothing to do with my daughter's death. I fed her, I loved her, I swaddled her and placed her back into her bassinet. When I woke up, she wasn't breathing," Irish said.

Irish said the family had been under the supervision of DCF since 2012, but that it was because of a prescription drug she took when her son was born that required the hospital to notify DCF, not because of neglect or abuse.

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No charges have been filed in the April 26 death of 16-day-old Bailey Irish.

The state’s child welfare agency has been under increased scrutiny after multiple cases of children dying under its supervision, including 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver, the Fitchburg boy who disappeared for months before officials became aware of the situation.

Oliver will be laid to rest today at Hope Cemetery in Worcester, the Associated Press reports.

On Friday, a scathing report by the Massachusetts child advocate agency said DCF failed to protect a Lynn infant who was allegedly beaten to death by the mother’s boyfriend, The Boston Globe reported.

"[3-month-old Chase Gideika] and his twin were identified as substance-exposed at birth and were sent home from the hospital despite a clear risk of maltreatment," the review concluded. "The personnel in this area office erred in their judgment by sending these infants home."

The baby died in July 2013 and prosecutors said the child sustained head injuries consistent with being slammed and shaken. DCF had also removed an older sibling from the home after a report of neglect a year earlier.

On Tuesday, embattled DCF commissioner Olga Roche resigned and an interim commissioner was appointed. House Speaker Robert DeLeo had called for Roche’s resignation on Monday over “mismanagement” of cases.

Friday’s report also called for DCF to review and assess all caretakers. The agency said it has intensified its screening process and hired more social workers to ease caseloads.