A ward is any child who has been adjudged dependent by a court and who is under the care or custody of a public official or agency, including foster children, or any child under the control of Department of Children and Families (DCF) in the state of Massachusetts. This also applies to children in penal custody or otherwise detained within the criminal justice system.
If children who are wards of the state are to be included in any research study, the investigator must provide the IRB with detailed information about the proposed permission/assent process, as well as the identity and authority of the individuals who will provide permission for the Ward subjects.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that they review and approve all requests for individual Department of Children and Families clients to participate in research. This includes children who are in DCF care or custody. This review is conducted by the Department of Children and Families Research Proposal Review Committee. Investigators are required to complete and submit the appropriate IRB submission forms in order for this review to occur. Investigators should describe the plan to enroll wards of the state within the protocol and address the enrollment of wards of the state within other applicable study documents. No research may begin with a particular ward until approval is obtained from DCF and Tufts Health Sciences IRB.
Assistant Commissioner for Quality Improvement
Massachusetts Department of Children and Families
24 Farnsworth Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02210