NH social worker says weakness in system may have failed 7-year-old girl’s disappearance – Boston News, Weather, Sports

(WHDH) – As the search for a missing 7-year-old girl continues in New Hampshire, 7NEWS has reached out to an expert to learn more about how cases like hers are handled.

Earlier in the week, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu blasted the Massachusetts judge who placed Harmony Montgomery in her father’s custody. Not only was Adam Montgomery a convicted felon, but Sununu says the judge moved ahead without waiting for an ongoing review to find out if Montgomery was fit to be a father.

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families closed her case when Harmoney went to live with her father in New Hampshire in February 2019.

However, records obtained from the Manchester Police Department show that the Children, Young People and Families Division were contacted several times about Harmony in the same year.

So even if granting custody to Harmony’s father was a mistake, as Governor Sununu claims, the question remains – How did Harmony apparently fall through the cracks when her case was assigned to New Hampshire’s DCYF? ?

Social worker Anna Carrigan previously tried to sue Granite State over how it handled child abuse and neglect cases. She pointed to a 2020 report from the New Hampshire Office of the Child Advocate that found several shortcomings in how the DCYF interacts with bordering state agencies.

Carrigan’s main problem was the lack of working relationships between DCYF workers and their out-of-state counterparts. She said this creates a problematic breakdown in communication, especially in an area like New England, where there is a lot of movement across state lines.

The report also highlighted a lack of knowledge about how child protection laws and agency protocols differ from state to state. Carrigan said it created roadblocks when children were transferred from one agency to another.

A case highlighted in Carrigan’s report bears several similarities to Harmony’s. The child moved from a neighboring state, lived with a relative in New Hampshire and there had been allegations of abuse. This child eventually died of a head injury.

“I don’t understand why they act like this is news to them when their child advocate has already told them what needs to be changed about interstate communications in cases like this,” Carrigan said. at 7NEWS.

It’s unclear if the recommendations outlined in the 2020 report were ever implemented and since Harmony was last seen in late 2019, it’s also unclear if it would have done anything to prevent its disappearance.

“I can’t say the department has yet taken specific action in response to our 2020 report recommendation regarding being proactive in nurturing cross-border relationships,” said New Hampshire children’s advocate Moira O’Neill. “Even if they had, the recommendation was made after Harmony returned to New Hampshire.”

While Carrigan agrees Governor Sununu should be angry, she also said she also believes that ultimately the state safety net failed the little girl.

“Granted, when additional calls were made about what was going on with the child, it’s a whole different ballgame right now and there’s no way to blame Massachusetts for that,” a- she declared.

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