Despite Notable Gains, Connecticut’s Child Welfare System “Undermined” by “Longstanding” Issues, According to Latest Report

(New York, NY) – The independent monitor in the federal lawsuit known as the “Juan F” case found that the Connecticut Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) performance continues to fall short in six of 22 court-ordered benchmarks needed to reform its child welfare system. These include the critical areas of case planning and meeting children’s basic medical, dental and mental health needs.

“Today’s findings are not surprising,” said Ira Lustbader, Litigation Director of Children’s Rights. “Reports have identified time and time again that inadequate case planning, shortages of basic services and staffing instability have continued to put children at risk in Connecticut’s child welfare system. These problems simply must be fixed.”

While the achievements of DCF under its current commissioner have been impressive, the Court Monitor’s report found that, “Thorough investigations, sufficient visitation, adequate care coordination, focused and inclusive case planning, standardized assessment, appropriate court interventions, sufficient service provision, effective permanency work and timely and comprehensive foster care licensing and support work are all currently undermined by excessive workloads and inadequate services.”

The report also noted a soon-to-be-released study of 30 caseworkers, which reveals that “none of the 30 social workers was able to meet the multiple basic standards of case management set forth by statute, regulation, and policy. … In fact, the basic standards could not be met by staff even with considerable amounts of paid and unpaid overtime.”

The report evaluates DCF’s performance during the second and third quarters of 2016. It is the latest to be issued under the Juan F. lawsuit, led by national advocacy organization Children’s Rights and Steven Frederick of the Stamford law firm Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky, LLP.