Sen. McKinney Calls on Gov. Malloy to Direct DCF to “Cease and Desist” in Implementing Controversial New Policy

June 18, 2014

Questions Why “Interests of Abusers Put Ahead of Interests of Children”

‘A slap in the face to the legislature and the public”

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney today called on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to direct the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) commissioner to “cease and desist” her implementation of any policy that would allow individuals to remove their names from the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.

In a June 18 letter to the governor (attached), Sen. McKinney said DCF’s decision to allow the names of child abusers to be removed from the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Registry “may put Connecticut children at risk.” Sen. McKinney said he believes DCF Commissioner Joette Katz exceeded her authority in making the policy change, and he charged that the decision intrudes upon the policy making authority of the legislative branch.

“It is frankly dumbfounding to me that the Commissioner would choose to exercise her authority in a way that seems to put the interests of abusers ahead of the interests of our children,” Sen. McKinney said. “As the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, it is her primary duty to protect the health and safety of Connecticut’s children, not to make it easier for past abusers to get jobs working with children.”

Sen. McKinney noted that the DCF commissioner is appointed by the governor and said it is incumbent upon Gov. Malloy to ensure that Commissioner Katz implements the law as enacted by the legislature.

More importantly, Sen. McKinney said in his letter to the governor, is that the DCF commissioner “does not jeopardize the health and safety of our children through the adoption of an ill-advised, unauthorized policy that was apparently adopted without prior public notice and input. Surely her actions do not reflect the transparent and accountable government that you promised the people of this state.”

Sen. McKinney added that had the legislature wished to create a process for removing names from the list, it could and would have done so. He said that when DCF proposed legislation this year creating a removal process, “it essentially acknowledged that the matter was one of legislative policy. There was bipartisan opposition to the proposal, and the Senate chose not to adopt the measure.”

Sen. McKinney noted that a paid defense attorney representing child abusers and others before DCF has suggested that legislators who voted against the removal procedure were simply confused and believed the Abuse and Neglect Registry was the same thing as our Sex Offender Registry.

“Not only is such a gross assumption insulting to many legislators, but it seems to trivialize non-sexually based abuse,” Sen. McKinney said. “While nothing may shock the conscience quite as much as the sexual abuse of a child, other physical and mental abuse can also be devastating. Those who beat children with belts, put cigarettes out on their bodies, lock them in closets or otherwise abuse and torment children should not be appeased. Furthermore, DCF should not do an end-run around the legislature and draft important policy affecting the safety of children in consultation with a paid defense attorney.

“Nevertheless, it appears the Commissioner has chosen to simply make up her own policy. On a matter of such serious public concern, her precipitous, unilateral and unauthorized action is a slap in the face to the legislature and the public.”