Sen. Fasano Questions Malloy’s Cuts to DCF in Light of Child Deaths & Group Home Closures

November 21, 2014

Hartford – State Senator Len Fasano (R-34), incoming Senate Minority Leader, today questioned Governor Malloy’s decision to cut $9.2 million from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) as part of his rescission plan announced yesterday.

“I am astonished that this administration’s answer to a staggering deficit is to cut funding from one of the most struggling state agencies. DCF provides services that are a core function of government. They are responsible for protecting each and every child in Connecticut, a task that has proved to be both challenging and in need of stronger resources,” said Fasano.

“Twenty two children have died due to abuse and neglect in the last 18 months, 16 of which had active cases with DCF. We have also seen an ‘unprecedented’ number of child homicides involving children who should have been protected by DCF, according to the Child Advocate’s recent 2013 Child Fatality report. In spite of these horrifying numbers, the administration is cutting almost a million dollars from programs that specifically target high risk home situations to prevent child deaths.”

Senator Fasano cited a $455,125 cut to child abuse and neglect intervention, a $415,039 cut to community based prevention programs, and a $94,610 cut to family violence outreach and counseling – all programs focused on preventing child fatalities.

“The administration doesn’t stop there,” said Fasano, referencing a $6 million cut to residential board and care for children. “In a state where recent group home closings have triggered a crisis in which thousands of children and families are left with no place to turn for care and are flooding emergency rooms, these cuts are devastating. Our hospitals are strained, our families need help, and now the administration is exacerbating an already intense situation.”

In July, a federal oversight report from the Juan F. Federal Court monitor’s office reported that the state has underfunded community programs at a time when large numbers if needy children are being diverted from institutions. DCF has recently closed at least six group homes serving high needs children.

“These cuts not only enhance the likelihood of more group home closures, they also negatively impact the community programs needed to supplement home care for the children who will be forced to leave residential care,” said Fasano.

The court monitor’s report also found “deficits in staffing and service resource levels” that have led to a regression in the quality of DCF’s abuse investigations as well as its case management and care coordination.

“Now is not the time to be crippling DCF any more than it already is. DCF case workers are dedicated people who are overworked and spread thin. The current commissioner has led DCF into a corner, and the agency is struggling to meet the needs of our children. Rescissions to vital DCF programs are unconscionable, and I am disappointed in the administration for focusing cuts on those most in need,” said Fasano.