Fasano Calling for changes after child welfare agency missed warning signs for girl [WFSB]

December 28, 2015


A state investigative report faults Connecticut’s child welfare office for missing the warning signs surrounding the family of a 2-year-old Plymouth girl who died from a drug overdose in 2014.

A 34-page report issued Tuesday by Child Advocate Sarah Eagan faults Department of Children and Families for assigning a “lower risk” to Londyn Sack’s family, despite her mother’s history of drug abuse, erratic behavior and pattern of child welfare neglect complaints.

DCF said it has since improved its risk assessment processes. Eagan, however, is questioning whether enough is being done.

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner determined Londyn died from an overdose of suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction.

The girl’s mother, Rebekah Robinson, has pleaded not guilty charges of manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor.

State Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) called for Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz to resign after the release of this report.

“The state has culpability in Londyn’s death as well as many others. These unnecessary child deaths are a direct result of the misguided and dangerous policies implemented by Commissioner Katz. Her stubborn insistence on keeping kids in unsafe homes in order to show fewer out of home placements, her promotion of a ‘low risk’ diversion program which keeps kids off DCF rolls but leaves them unprotected, and her failure to implement sufficient risk assessment and quality assurance programs, which advocates have been crying for, are resulting in serious harm and even death for too many Connecticut children,” Fasano said in a statement on Tuesday.

Fasano is proposing legislation to “improve the system for the most at risk children.” He said the following bills were rejected by Katz.

  • S.B. No. 310 An Act Strengthening Child Fatality Review Procedures: This bill would have required an independent review of fatalities involving children with Department of Children and Families involvement, promoted a more transparent review process and ensured public discussion of findings and recommendations. Note: a portion of this concept was included in another public act.
  • S.B. No. 308 An Act Concerning an Independent Review of the Department of Children & Families: This bill would have required DCF to retain an outside independent agency to review the department’s child protection policies and procedures and submit a report on findings to the state’s committees on Judiciary, Human Services and Children. The committees would hold a public hearing on the report and the department would be required to submit a plan to implement recommended changes.
  • S.B. No. 301 An Act Concerning Transparency within the Department of Children & Families: This bill would have increased transparency and accountability for Department of Children and Families operations by increasing public access to the department’s records.