Parenthood requires love. And yet, photos from a federal audit show terrible, unloving conditions at Massachusetts group foster homes that were released recently. It's heartbreaking to see the broken furniture, holes in the walls, stained and bug riddled mattresses, unsanitary, foul-smelling bathrooms and safety violations galore.

The feds came in unannounced. The U.S. Office of the Inspector General inspected about 30 group homes for foster children. The audit found that 27 of the group homes failed state requirements for living standards. It also found 26 of the homes, if that's what you want to call them, did not comply with requirements for the upkeep of the buildings and grounds.

And when it came to the human element of simply caring for these children, the audit found that half the group homes flunked with state requirements regarding the care of the kids. Can you imagine how these group homes fared with providing nutritious meals? Hold your nose. Half the homes didn't meet basic state standards and of those, 15 homes had smelly food that was rotten.

In all, there are 101 foster homes in the Commonwealth. The Department of Early Education and Care is responsible for licensing the homes, while the Department of Children and Families enters into contracts with agencies that run the homes.

According to state officials, all of the problems identified in the audit have been corrected. Thank goodness for unannounced, surprise inspections in monitoring these facilities.

It's difficult enough for these kids to be alienated. They don't deserve to feel like charity cases. If these foster group homes can help a child, we won't have to spend years repairing an adult.

Editor’s Note: Phil Paleologos is the morning talk show host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6am-10am. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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