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Commission to study childs ‘best interests’ reintroduced on Beacon Hill – Boston 25 News | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

BOSTON — A proposed commission to study and potentially recommend changes to how child ‘care and protection’ cases are handled in Massachusetts is back on the table on Beacon Hill.

The ‘Harmony Commission’ would examine how to balance the rights of parents without jeopardizing the wellbeing and safety of children. It also would study how these cases disproportionately impact children of color, immigrant children, children with disabilities, LGBTQ children and children from low-income backgrounds.

The commission is named in honor of Harmony Montgomery, the 5-year-old Massachusetts foster child was murdered, allegedly by her biological father in New Hampshire.

This bill passed unanimously in the Massachusetts Senate last year, but it died during budget reconciliation.

Within days of the release of a devastating affidavit, detailing the murder of Harmony Montgomery, More refiled his bill.

As you know by now, the little girl was missing for 2 years before it was reported to police. She was in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families for years, before a judge granted custody of her to her biological father, Adam Montgomery, who’s now charged with her murder.

As the child advocates report noted Harmony’s needs were never considered during the custody hearing.

The affidavit claims Adam beat Harmony to death in late 2019. Her remains have never been found.

“If the family’s going to be reunited in the child safety and well-being is at risk, is that really serving the child’s best interest,” asked State Senator Michael Moore (D-Worcester 2nd).

“We’ve known about this case now for almost two years. Are you satisfied with the action that Massachusetts has taken in response to it so far,” asked anchor and investigative reporter, Kerry Kavanaugh.

“No. What actions have we taken,” said Moore. “I mean, really, we need to do a comprehensive look at this. The current system in place.”

To that point, the’ Harmony Commission’ would examine “…how a child’s rights, welfare and best interest considerations are currently handled in care and protection cases…” and “…make recommendations for how to better protect and serve children in such cases.”

“We all saw with the release of the affidavit the horrific conditions and trauma this poor girl had to bear. We need to make sure that no other child goes through this again.” Moore said.

It would involve several stakeholders including representatives from DCF, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and the Office of the Child Advocate. The ‘Harmony Commission’ would also host meetings for public input. The bill is not yet scheduled for a committee hearing. We’ll follow this once again.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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