“We are not know Harmony Montgomery ultimate fate and, unfortunately, never, perhaps.” – Maria Mossaides, OCA directorsaid during news conference Wednesday. “But we do know what is beautiful young the child has experienced many tragedies in her short life.
CNN left Messages with New Hampshire public office defender who represents Montgomery, but not one the calls are back.
Police Department in Manchester, New Hampshire continues to investigate the disappearance of the child.
In the report, Mossaides said: highlights wave effects of miscalculations of state officials of in young girls safety and the “unequal weight” that was placed on her parents“Rights versus child welfare.
“Not putting her and her needs first is ours system in the end failed her,” said Mossaides. We owe her changes necessary allow our system make better in in future.”
Office of The Children’s Advocate has the oversight and duties of an Ombudsman for ensure children in Massachusetts “receives appropriate, timely, and quality public services” with Special attention on vulnerable andrisk children.
What’s the report found
Harmony, born in June 2014, was blind in one eye and had other health problems, according to the report.
That summer branch of Children and Families (DCF) office reports received of neglect while baby lived with her mother Krystal Sori, who was struggling with substance abuse, according to the report. father was imprisoned at the time of her birth and “does not participate in Life of Harmony,” the message says.
CNN called and emailed Sori on Wednesday for comment but received no reply.
Harmony was legally removed from her mother care and placement in foster family home shortly after the reports of neglect, the report said. She remained in DCF custody but was returned to her. mothercare twice. By January 2018 Harmony was removed from her mother under guardianship “due to parental substance abuse” and returned to a foster family. homeaccording to the report.
“Shortly after this placement, the reception parents expressed concern … about the impact on Harmony of repeated attempts at reunification with Miss Sori, the report said. parents believed that Harmony was going through trauma due to the repeated return and removal from Miss Sorey’s care.
Meanwhile, DCF officials reported with in father who has reached out in September 2016 — more how year after he was released from prison — and he said wanted be apart of Harmony’s life, according to the report.
Montgomery had intermittent contacts and supervised visits. with his daughter over in next pair of years, the report said. However, in October 2018, he asked for Harmony for placement in his departure, according to the report.
February 2019 hearing confirming custody of Montgomery of Harmony was “the most shocking thing” in child’s business, said Mossaides, because there was no more discussion of the child’s needs.
judge awarded full guardianship and decided that home research on Montgomery under the Interstate Agreement of Accommodation of Children (ICPS) — an agreement between all states governing placement of children across the border — not applicable for constitutional reasons because he was found be suitable parent.
“Courts in other states have also determined that the ICPC cannot constitutionally apply to parent. This approach is not in line with The case law of the State of Massachusetts,” the statement reads.
A DCF lawyer opposed the placement, but did not explain why home research was necessary and why it was risk to move Harmony unappreciated by parent Montgomery abilities and did not adequately communicate the child’s needs, the report said.
“The actual circumstances of Mr. Montgomery’s parenting abilities have not been adequately explored, nor has the connection to the needs of Harmony and his ability give for them,” the report said, adding that Montgomery’s housing stability and employment were not confirmed, nor was Montgomery’s physical safety of his home for Violations of Harmony.
Montgomery took his daughter in New Hampshire about a week after the end of the hearing and DCF’s participation, the report said. Sorey reported missing Harmony in November 2021, tells Manchester Police that she has not seen the girl since April 2019. Manchester Police. announced Disappearance of Harmony in December 2021, but she is estimated to have disappeared. in in early December 2019, the report said.
In a statement to CNN on On Wednesday, the DCF said it remains “deeply concernedabout the disappearance of a girl and added the OCA report “illustrate the serious responsibility of balancing baby safety and best interest and parents”legal custody rights of their child.”
The agency said it has already initiated “significant reforms”, including policy work with children with disability, multilevel review of reunions, increased surveillance of personnel and implementation guidance for assessment of whether parent It has ability safe care for child.
Among the recommendations
After review of all available lawsuits and documents, the OCA “determined that Harmony was … not a priority in court case about her own departure and protection” Mossaides said.
“When children not in the center of every aspect of child protection system system can’t really protect them,” she said.
WASP found that information on Harmony family did not have complete and focused primarily on her mother. Among other recommendations, the OCA recommended that DCF “should sure that fathers are provided at the same level of attention as a mother,” Mossaides said, and that both parents are adequately assessed.
“We also recommend DCF work improve quality of his legal defense, with focus on advanced training, ongoing litigation support and supervision of their lawyers,” Mossaides said.
If the agency presented a comprehensive picture of in father parenting abilities and the fuller picture of strengths and vulnerabilities of Harmony, “maybe more of possibility advocate for transition period” for Harmony with ensure her safetyReport added.
The DCF lawyer was “interfered inability to effectively evaluate Mr. Montgomery,” Mossides said, adding that this was in part because Montgomery was not cooperative when in contact with DCF.
And while DCF opposed the placement of Harmony with her father and pushed for a home research, it could provide “a stronger information” to support their opposition, Mossaides said.
In a statement to CNN, DCF pointed to a recently proposed law that help advocate for childreninterests in court.
It said that the agency “remains committed to engaging with court to increase timely constancy for children and assure safety and for child best interest in remain the main thing”.
Jennifer Selva of CNN contributed to this report.