Connecticut Moves More Kids Out of Institutions, Falls Short on Mental Health Services, Report Finds

(New York, NY) – Today an independent federal court monitor released a report that reviews the progress of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) in reforming its child welfare system, a longstanding effort spurred by the national advocacy group Children’s Rights. In response to the report, covering the first quarter of 2013, Ira Lustbader, associate director of Children’s Rights, issued the following statement:

“This latest report card is disappointing. Commissioner Katz has made significant positive changes for abused and neglected kids in Connecticut, such as moving kids out of institutions and ensuring more are cared for by relatives. But the state must redouble its efforts to tackle major issues like getting children mental health treatment and taking steps to find them permanent, loving homes. We will continue to serve as watchdogs to make sure these problems get the attention they deserve.”

The report (PDF), submitted to U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport, shows DCF met 13 of 22 court-ordered reform benchmarks. On the critical measure of meeting the needs of children and families, the monitor found compliance in just 62 percent of cases – a slight improvement, but still far short of the required 80 percent.

According to the report, “wait-lists and lack of services availability combined with ongoing case management deficits contribute to families and children not receiving the services they require.” Although the report notes that the Department’s recently-approved budget includes new resources to assist with some mental health services and support to relatives serving as foster parents, it also states DCF will still be “hard-pressed” to adequately meet these and other important needs.

For more information about Children’s Rights’ ongoing campaign to reform the Connecticut child welfare system, under the case known as “Juan F.”, and to access the complete latest report, please visit www.childrensrights.org/connecticut.