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Report: Staffing and Service Shortages Jeopardize Connecticut Child Welfare Reform

(Hartford, CT) – A lack of funding has led to “overwhelming” workloads and “insufficient community resources to address the needs of children and families” involved in Connecticut’s child welfare system, according to a report filed today by an independent federal court monitor.

The report evaluates the performance of the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) during the second and third quarters of 2015. It is the latest to be issued under a reform effort known as 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. According to the report: “The State’s fiscal commitment to improving child welfare case practice … is not being properly attended to and it is compromising the safety and well-being of Connecticut’s most vulnerable population.”

The monitor found that DCF’s performance hit a five-year low in two crucial areas during the second quarter of 2015. The state was only at 37 percent compliance with case planning, a process that outlines the types of placements and services kids and families should receive. And its performance on meeting children’s basic needs was at just 44 percent compliance. Services not readily available in some parts of the state include those to help with domestic violence, mental health and substance abuse issues.

“There’s an opportunity to do right by these children. An end to federal court oversight is within reach if this administration ensures DCF has adequate staffing and services,” said Ira Lustbader, litigation director for Children’s Rights. “But if the state continues to shortchange the system, more vulnerable kids and families will be harmed, and court oversight will be prolonged unnecessarily.”