The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has accepted to hear the case of H. Montgomery (“Child”), a 7-year-old New Hampshire resident who was last seen in September 2019 living with her father and stepmother. In February 2019, a judge in Lawrence granted custody to H’s father. The child’s mother lost custody because of issues with substance abuse.
Police found evidence and statements that show inconsistency in the father’s testimony, and police interviews reveal a history of abuse towards the child. Newly released records show that police were called over to the father’s home at least 10 times since February 19, 2019, when the father gained custody of the child. As of January 2022, the father has been arrested and charged on counts assault, interference with custody, and endangering the welfare of a while; all of which are related to the missing child. His wife was also arrested for welfare fraud for allegedly fraudulently collecting welfare benefits on behalf of the missing child.
As authorities search for the child, questions arise over how the child has been missing for two years without action by authorities. In this case, a timeline of events shows that the child’s mother contacted Manchester Police on November 18, 2019, over the missing child, Police officers contacted the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), and DCYF responded that they could not locate the child on December 27, 2019. Manchester Police began a search on December 31, 2019.
There are many obstacles that children protective services programs face that impact the aid that they give. One of the main obstacles is in determining the cases that require immediate intervention and the ones that do not. In the case of the New Hampshire child, it is difficult for the program to intervene if there is not a clear guideline of what set of circumstances, taken together, require removal. There are many obstacles that children protective services programs face that impact the aid that they give, and future legal representatives must be aware of such issues in order to find solutions that support and maintain children’s safety.