Senator Kane Calls For General Assembly To Step-Up Legislative Oversight Of DCF

September 7, 2010

Senator Rob Kane (R-32) said he believes the General Assembly must take a more hands-on approach to ensuring that the state Department of Children and Families is following the policies and procedures in place to appropriately, efficiently, and compassionately carry out its charge to protect children.

“When I responded to a recent, highly publicized, child neglect case in Torrington by calling for a legislative hearing, I never intended the informational forum subsequently held by the Human Services Committee to be the last word on the matter. More to the point, I do not believe that DCF’s response – issued in a press release last week – ought to be the end of our discussion. As the Senate’s Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Human Services Committee, which has cognizance over the agency, I assure you that I do not intend to let the matter drop,” said Senator Kane.

Senator Kane said that he believes that DCF’s plan to beef up its hotline is a step in the right direction. The Torrington police should not have been kept on hold for 30 minutes when calling to report their concern for the children. However, he said he continues to have concerns about DCF’s decision to let the children return home until the agency sought an Order of Temporary Custody the following day.

“Keep in mind that DCF had initiated legal proceedings to obtain custody of these children a couple of months before the Torrington police called the hotline to report their concerns. Despite DCF’s press release on the matter – which, by the way is not the same as a report – I have to question why it seemed reasonable to let the children go home while the agency went back to court to seek a temporary custody order the following day. Had the situation really improved that much in the hours since the Torrington police called the hotline to express their concerns?” asked Senator Kane.

Senator Kane noted that DCF stated in its press release that the agency will seek legislation, as it has in the past, to revise the confidentiality statute to give the agency more authority to share otherwise confidential information with the public in certain high-profile cases.

“Certainly, we have to take a close look at any recommendations DCF makes for legislation that allows it to better carry out its responsibilities. But I think the General Assembly must take the initiative in examining how DCF implements is policies and carries out its procedures and, depending on what we learn, pass legislation that will benefit the children and families who depend on DCF for help. Details of this Torrington case are disturbing and it is the legislature’s responsibility to respond appropriately,” said Senator Kane.