RHEA R.  & others 
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.
Heard September 12, 2019
ACTION commenced in the Superior Court Department on July 27,
2016. The case was heard by John T. Lu, J., on a motion for
judgment on the pleadings.
A. Hession for the plaintiffs.
Schmidt, Special Assistant Attorney General, for the
Green, C.J., Milkey, & Wendlandt, JJ.
the Department of Children and Families (department or DCF)
placed a foster child in the plaintiffs' home, the foster
child sexually assaulted the family's young daughter.
Under the written foster care agreement between the
department and the plaintiff parents, the department had
agreed to provide them with sufficient information about any
child proposed for placement to enable them
"knowledgeably [to] determine whether or not to accept
the child." As the parents later discovered, however,
the department was aware at the time it placed the child in
the plaintiffs' home that the child had a history as both
a victim and
a perpetrator of sexual abuse, but did not disclose that
information to the parents before placing him in their home.
The plaintiffs filed a complaint against the department,
claiming negligence and breach of contract. At issue on
appeal is a judgment of the Superior Court dismissing the
plaintiffs' complaint on the ground that their claims are
barred by sovereign immunity, G. L. c. 258, § 10 (j) (§ 10
[j]). We reverse.
case comes before us on the plaintiffs' appeal from a
judgment of dismissal, entered on the department's motion
for judgment on the pleadings. We accordingly summarize the
facts alleged in the plaintiffs' complaint, which we
(like the motion judge) take as true for purposes of our
evaluation of the department's claim of immunity. See
Minaya v. Massachusetts Credit Union Share Ins.
Corp., 392 Mass. 904, 905 (1984).
plaintiffs are two parents and their minor daughter. The
parents have taken in hundreds of foster children under
contract with the department since 1999. The written foster
care agreement between the parents and the department, which
is signed by both parents and (on behalf of the department)
by the parents' department family resource worker, sets
out in considerable detail the parents' and the
department's respective responsibilities, imposing twenty
specific obligations on the department and thirty-three
specific obligations on the parents. Among the provisions of
the agreement (and among the specific obligations undertaken
by the department) is the following:
DEPARTMENT . . . AGREES TO:
provide the family with sufficient information about a
child who is in [the department's] care or custody,
prior to placement, so that she or he can knowledgeably
determine whether or not to accept the child, and to
provide the foster/pre-adoptive family with sufficient
information on an ongoing basis about the child who is in
[the department's] care or custody to enable the
foster/pre-adoptive family to provide adequate care to that
child and to meet the individual needs of that child."
2013, the department telephoned the mother to ask if it could
place a twelve year old boy, to whom we shall refer as Frank,