WASHINGTON, April 25, 2014 — The Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services has responded to a Communities Digital News article by Anne Stevens, Justina Pelletier, 15, held captive at Boston Mass. by Department of Children and Families.
His letter (verified) to the editor is unedited below:
To the Editor
Justina Pelletier should return to her home state of Connecticut to receive the services and support she needs close to her friends, family, school and community. We strongly believe that this outcome is in Justina’s best interests, and have laid the groundwork to make it happen.
The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) has been working with providers and the State of Connecticut to develop a reunification plan for the family to help achieve this goal as soon as possible.
Last year, the Juvenile Court gave custody of Justina to DCF and since then she has received treatment and supports from both DCF and a residential treatment provider in Massachusetts. She has received tutoring, made friends and attended events in the community, including a recent outing to see Blue Man Group.
We were also pleased we could help arrange for Justina to observe religious services and to spend time with her family on Easter. But we hope she is able to spend future holidays with her family in Connecticut.
Contrary to the belief of many, DCF does not have the authority to determine when and if custody should be returned to Justina’s parents. As with all cases of alleged abuse or neglect, that authority is held solely by the court. In this case, after reviewing all of the evidence, the court found that it is in the best interest of Justina to remain in DCF custody for now.
DCF is ready to work with the family around reunification planning and we hope the family will fully engage in this process. We have taken numerous steps to achieve our shared goal of Justina ultimately returning home — and we will stay focused on achieving this result.
— John Polanowicz
Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services