DCF Commissioner Olga Roche quizzed in rare closed-door session by House lawmakers

Members of a House committee investigating the troubled state Department of Children and Families spent nearly two hours grilling the department’s commissioner at an unusual closed-door session today.

One attendee said the secret meeting of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight is not an indication that lawmakers are preparing to call for the resignation of DCF Commissioner Olga I. Roche.

Gail Garinger, the state’s child advocate, declined to discuss what was said at the meeting, but confirmed that lawmakers fired some 90 questions at Roche, who already testified for four hours at a public hearing held by the committee last month.

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“She was very forthcoming in trying to provide whatever additional information the committee wanted,” Garinger said after the private meeting. “But in no sense did I get a feeling this was somehow a vote of confidence or non-confidence. I think she was very respectfully treated, and did a very good job of responding to questions.”

Roche spoke to reporters after meeting, but declined to discuss what was said.

“We were discussing some issues that are confidential information so we had this follow-up meeting,” she said. “But it was, again, I want to stress, a very productive meeting.”

The committee chairman, Representative David P. Linsky, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Roche and DCF have been under intense scrutiny since December, when the agency acknowledged that it had lost track of Jeremiah Oliver, a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy who had been under DCF supervision since 2011.

Jeremiah was last seen by a relative in September and is now feared dead. His mother and her boyfriend have been charged with abusing him. Both have pleaded not guilty to all charges.