Sen. Fasano Calls for Resignation of Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz

July 23, 2015

Hartford – Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement calling on DCF Commissioner Joette Katz to resign.

“Commissioner Katz’s autocratic leadership and misplaced priorities have undermined the effectiveness of her agency, put children at risk and eroded public trust. Recent reports, including the Child Advocate’s report released yesterday, highlight the disturbing reality of persistent issues within DCF including the abuse of children at DCF’s locked facilities, the agency’s failure to investigate many of these cases, and a continuous struggle to embrace transparency.

“Within one year of taking office Commissioner Katz promised dramatic improvements to DCF, including getting DCF out from under a court decree to be monitored. Instead, we’ve seen a deterioration of the care and condition of children under DCF care as documented in this report as well as in the Court Monitor’s recent report. DCF has consistently failed to meet 7 critical quality benchmarks, up from 6 in 2010 before Katz took office. DCF has also failed to meet 306 identifiable needs of children in its care. This is a more than 30% increase from just last year and a 125% increase or more than twice the number of unmet needs in 2010. Based on this record of broken promises and failure, and the immediate ongoing harm it is inflicting on children, I feel compelled to call for her resignation.

“The Commissioner’s outright rejection of past criticism and proposed solutions is a disturbing abuse of power. Her opposition to efforts to increase transparency has hindered significant needed reforms. These recent reports are not the first we are hearing about mistreatment and a failure of the system under Commissioner Katz.

“I do not doubt the hard work of many DCF staff members that truly spend every day protecting Connecticut’s children. I also understand that there are complexities and extreme challenges associated with juvenile justice in particular. But the Commissioner’s dismissive attitude and failure to consider recommendations made repeatedly in the past are preventing the agency from properly protecting children.”

“We have seen a pattern of deflecting blame and stifling criticism which is unacceptable behavior for a public servant and Commissioner. Katz’s actions and record of failure have undermined public confidence in herself and her agency. Her influence has prevented DCF from advancing and improving. It’s time for her to step down,” said Fasano.

Senator Fasano has asked the Attorney General to investigate the conduct of DCF as described in the Child Advocate’s report including their failure to investigate whistleblowing complaints regarding the abuse witnessed in DCF’s facilities.

Fasano is also asking the co-chairs of the state’s Committee on Children, Senator Dante Bartolomeo and Representative Diana Urban, as well as children’s advocates, to support his call for Commissioner Katz to resign.