• 25 Investigates: Foster mom claims DCF 'blacklists' homes as kids desperately need beds

    By: Kerry Kavanaugh

    Updated:

    25 Investigates year-long investigation uncovered thousands of missing foster kids across the country, kicked of out the system.

    Now, we are hearing from former foster parents who say they tried to help, but were shut out of the system as well.

    Former foster parent Barbara Papile told Boston 25 News anchor Kerry Kavanaugh she was 'blacklisted.'

    “We have these kids in our home and we lovingly have them in our home 24/7 and we don't have a voice," said Papile.

    Barbara Papile said she opened her home to 13 foster children over 8 years, and has three grown children of her own.  She says she proudly continued providing a safe home for children in need, until she says, the state cut her off.

    “I'm not afraid to use that word:  Blacklisted, for no reason. It's very disheartening when I want to desperately open my home," Papile said.

    MISSING AND FORGOTTEN

    Papile is sharing her story after 25 Investigates revealed The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families closed the cases of missing foster kids while they were still unaccounted for.  Our investigation found the state unloads more than 800 foster children from the system every year when they turn 18,  But DCF does not track how many of those kids were missing at the time they were discharged.

    “We just can't close the door on these kids with no life skills. It's just wrong," said Papile.

    “We are unfortunately filling every available bed that we have,” State Child Advocate Maria Mossaides told Kavanaugh.  She says the opioid epidemic has fueled the strain on services.  

    DCF tells Boston 25 News that since 2015 they've taken in more than 6,000 children each year, and are on pace for the same amount this year.

    The epidemic is part of the reason Mossaides says a missing foster child's bed is filled so quickly, particularly in group homes.

    "In Massachusetts, a bed is kept open in the hopes that you will come back, but if you're not back within a reasonable period of time, another child who maybe needs that bed will be placed in that bed," Mossaides said. 

    Papile says DCF never explained to her why the state cut her family off, eliminating a bed.

    We asked DCF about the Papile's situation.  They told us they couldn't comment because of confidentiality.

    According to her February 2016 home evaluation, the evaluating agency wrote about Papile:  "family is a supportive and cohesive unit. They are diligent about ensuring the needs of the youth are met.”

    The evaluation also included a letter of recommendation from a local police deputy chief.

    FOSTER PARENT BILL OF RIGHTS PROPOSAL

    "We have to have a bigger voice in this, and that's where the foster parents bill of rights started," said Papile.

    She and other former foster parents have been fighting for a bill of rights at the statehouse for more than a year.

    "We have to do a better job and we're not doing it.  DCF really has to step up here," added Papile.

    The foster parent ‘bill of rights’ has been lumped into another bill, which have yet to come up for a vote on Beacon Hill. The current legislative session ends July 31st. 

    DCF commissioner, Linda Spears has declined to speak with us about our findings.

    MORE: 25 Investigates: Missing and Forgotten foster kids

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