Gov. Deval Patrick says the failure of the Department of Children and Families to keep track of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy was inexcusable, but has provided the state with an opportunity to re-examine the agency.

    Patrick met on Monday with representatives of the Child Welfare League of America, which he asked to conduct an independent review of the agency. He later told reporters that he's asked the league to report back by the spring.

    Jeremiah Oliver has not been seen by relatives since September and is feared dead.

    DCF Commissioner Olga Roche (roh-SHAY') did not appear with Patrick at the news conference, but the governor said he continued to have confidence in her leadership.

    Patrick has asked the Legislature for more funding to reduce the caseload of agency social workers. (Associated Press)