New Report: Sustained Progress at DCF, But Planning and Service Problems Remain

WALLINGFORD, CT — Although Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) continues to struggle to achieve several important benchmarks in implementing reforms to its child welfare services required by a longstanding court order, it has undertaken some initiatives to facilitate improvements, according to an independent monitoring report filed today.

The quarterly report, which covers the period from July 1 to September 30, 2007, is required under the settlement of the class action known as Juan F. v. Rell, brought against Connecticut by Children’s Rights on behalf of the more than 7,000 abused and neglected children in the state’s care.

According to the report, DCF has met 17 of the 22 benchmarks mandated by the Juan F. settlement–the same as indicated in the last monitoring report, in September 2007–and has achieved outcome measures related to family reunification, adoption, and transfer of guardianship for the fourth consecutive quarter. The report notes some serious remaining problems, including systemwide “gridlock,” discharge delays, waiting lists for community services, and a lack of sufficient foster and adoptive homes, but also highlights a number of efforts DCF has taken to address these issues.

“The problems that remain in Connecticut are very serious and need to be addressed to truly meet the needs of the state’s abused and neglected children, but the progress noted in this report is encouraging,” said Ira Lustbader, associate director of Children’s Rights. “Under its new leadership, DCF is clearly devoting more attention to these problems, and we hope they will remain focused on them as they continue to work toward implementing all of the required reforms.”

As reported by the independent monitor, DCF has demonstrated heightened attention in the areas of:

The release of today’s monitoring report coincided with the release of a legislative study of DCF, which also addressed some of the agency’s persistent problems in recruiting and retaining foster and adoptive families, planning for children’s needs and services, and monitoring and evaluating progress at both systemic and case-by-case levels.

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