Setting the record straight on DCYF

When it comes to the situation facing New Hampshire’s Division of Children, Youth, and Families, former State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Molly Kelly is shamefully trying to alter history for political gain. She has spent the past few weeks attacking Gov. Chris Sununu and the Republican Legislature on the failures of DCYF, but conveniently did not mention one thing: She had a front-row seat to this crisis as it was unfolding and was nowhere to be found.

Last month, a report came out that showed New Hampshire’s DCYF still had significant issues. It was troubling, but progress does not come overnight. Gov. Sununu inherited a crisis at DCYF and has worked hard to protect vulnerable children. Since taking office, he removed DCYF leadership, funding was increased and new services were added.

Back in June, Gov. Sununu signed a trio of bills in Nashua passed by Republicans that put additional funding toward hiring more child protection workers, increased funding for foster families, and restored voluntary services for families – a critical preventive tool that was cut from the budget a few years ago.

And it was just last week that Molly Kelly attacked Gov. Sununu for not restoring these voluntary services fast enough. Yet, it was Gov. Sununu and the Republican-led Legislature that restored voluntary services, which will certainly save the lives of children across New Hampshire.

What else did Molly Kelly leave out? She voted to cut voluntary services funding by 33 percent as a State Senator in 2009 when the Democrats had complete control of the House, Senate and Corner Office.

Two weeks ago, at a press conference, Molly Kelly blamed Gov. Sununu for the recent lawsuits and settlements arising out of DCYF. Again, what did Molly Kelly leave out? All of the lawsuits she cited dated back to her time as a State Senator, before Gov. Sununu even took office. Where was she? Certainly not blowing the whistle.

Gov. Sununu has worked hard to rebuild, reform and re-engineer New Hampshire’s DCYF, as evidenced in his first budget address:

“We have a crisis at our Division of Children Youth and Families, there’s no denying that. This budget addresses many of their concerns including increasing staffing levels based on the recommendations provided in the Quality Assurance Review of the Division of Children, Youth and Families. I do not see this is not a choice but a moral obligation and is the start of transformational changes needed within the department, and within our state.”

“We need new leadership but also a new approach to the way we protect our most vulnerable children. We will work to rethink how we partner with the community to not just shoring up the existing system but build a better model with the best practices from around the country.”

Restoring voluntary services, increasing funding and adding new child protection workers is a direct result of Gov. Chris Sununu and the Republican Legislature, and no amount of dishonest spin from Molly Kelly will change that.

It is troubling that she would politicize these tragedies for her own gain, especially in light of her own record. When it comes to protecting New Hampshire’s most vulnerable children, the voters of New Hampshire know where Gov. Sununu and the Republican Legislature stands. The same cannot be said for Molly Kelly.

Sen. Sharon Carson represents District 14. Rep. Kimberly Rice represents District 37.