Local foster agency weighs in on Auburn tragedy - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Local foster agency weighs in on Auburn tragedy

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The investigation continues into the death of a two-year-old child in a foster home in Auburn over the weekend.

A 22-month-old baby was also critically injured.

The Department of Children and Families say case workers had visited the home three days before and reported that the children appeared to be doing well.

Western Mass News spoke with a local foster care agency who sends their case workers out weekly to check on their foster children.

"We are going to run as if it is our own child being cared for by that person,” Tom Borden, the senior vice president of Berkshire Children and Families, said.

Borden is a former foster parent himself.

"It’s horrible and I've been involved in child welfare for 25 years and the loss of any child is as bad as it can get,” Borden said.

Berkshire Children and Families handles up to 60 children at a time, from infants to young adults. Each case worker at BCF is given about eight children to handle at a time.

"There are hundreds, thousands, there are thousands of us across the state who work every day to ensure that doesn't happen," Borden said of the tragic loss of two-year-old Avalena Conway-Coxon.

Three of the 10 case workers in Auburn were unlicensed. Local media reports a boyfriend of the foster mother, according to the Governor’s office, is not registered as living in the home. These are all warnings signs, according to Borden, who requires foster parents to go through lengthy background checks and hours of yearly training. He says the Department of Children and Families simply does not have enough resources to be as effective as they need to be, with so many children in the system in the state.

"They’re just not able to provide the level of intensity that we are able to provide,” Borden said. “And I think that makes a huge difference in terms of how we can ensure that the kids are in safe, well-managed, well-maintained homes."

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