Coakley’s offers conflicting words as candidate, AG

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As a candidate for governor, Martha Coakley has strongly criticized the troubled Department of Children and Families, saying it is unable to properly protect children from abuse and overloads its social workers.

“During my career, I have seen, day in and day out, how the current structure of DCF puts children at risk and overburdens social workers,’’ Coakley said in a statement released by her gubernatorial campaign. She vowed that, as governor, she would put in place crucial changes needed to protect children.

But that criticism stands in sharp contrast to the strong defense that Coakley, in her role as the state’s attorney general, has provided to DCF in a lawsuit brought by a child welfare advocacy group. The suit, which is currently before a federal appeals court, seeks to force the agency to tighten up its monitoring of children and boost standards of care and safety.

Since the April 2010 filing of the suit, Coakley has repeatedly insisted in court documents that the Patrick Aministration has already taken strong steps to meet the standards that Children’s Rights, a New York-based watchdog group, is demanding.

“In fact, DCF has developed a thorough system with the requisite flexibility needed to successfully provide services to meet the vast array of needs presented by its eclectic client base,’’ Coakley and her staff argued in one Dec. 3, 2012 brief.

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