CONCORD, N.H. — New details have emerged about the last few months before Harmony Montgomery’s disappearance that happened more than two years ago.
An internal review of how New Hampshire’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) handled the case was released by the office of Governor Chris Sununu.
The review also layouts some recommendations to improve the safety and protection of children in state care.
- Massachusetts sent Harmony across the state border in February 2019 to live with her father Adam Montgomery, a man with a lengthy criminal record, without an Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC). An ICPC would have put in place proper safety checks, like a home study. It also shows that Massachusetts did not notify NH child protection authorities of the placement.
- DCYF first became aware of Harmony’s presence in the state in July 2019 after an anonymous call about a black eye on the little girl allegedly inflicted by her father.
- July 29, 2019, a social worker visits the Montgomery home to investigate the claim. The worker interacts with Harmony and her father briefly as the two get into a car.
- During the second visit in August 2019, a social worker noticed a red mark and some bruising in Harmony’s eye. During their conversation, Harmony and her father said it happened “during horseplay with another sibling.”
- In October 2019, DCYF determined physical abuse allegations related to the black eye to be “unfounded” and said the children in the household were “happy and healthy.”
- January of 2020, after a complaint regarding the family to DCYF, a social worker visited the home and noticed Harmony’s absence. Her father, Adam, told the worker that she was “residing with her mother, Crystal.”
- January and March of 2021, additional calls regarding the Montgomery family are received by DCYF, and again workers notice Harmony is absent.
- September 2021, a call is received by DCYF claiming that Harmony’s mother hasn’t seen her daughter in over a year. DCYF makes several attempts to locate her, including checking with NH schools where she should have been registered.
- Believing Harmony and her family moved to an unknown location, DCYF enlists the help of Manchester PD in their effort to find them in November of 2021.
- The DCYF investigation changed to a missing child case on December 31, when Manchester PD announced her disappearance.
- NH legislature should pass new ICPC legislation immediately. Current ICPC does not apply if a foster child plans to live with a biological parent. The new ICPC provisions would apply to parents.
- Replace the state’s “antiquated” case management system that allows the ability to view all history DCYF has had with a child, including requests from other states.
- Reduce DCYF caseloads for each social worker
- Provide more services and support for families as high risk of repeat child welfare system involvement.
- Amend NH DCYF Policy to require confirmation of the residence of all children known to be members of a household, including one who allegedly has moved from a family.
- Enlist the support of local law enforcement to complete a welfare check to ensure the child’s welfare in cases where a parent has not responded to DCYF social workers.
Boston 25 spoke with the biological mother of Harmony Montgomery, Crystal Sorey. Sorey said her focus is on bringing Harmony home.
“We will be responding to this report once we have had a chance to review it,” said Sorey.
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