Fasano Statement on Court Monitor’s Report, Renews Call for Commissioner Katz’s Resignation

January 20, 2016

Report Shows DCF Fails the Needs of Over Half the Children in its Care

HartfordSenate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement regarding the court monitor’s new report on the Department of Children & Families’ (DCF) compliance with federal-court orders. Sen. Fasano has previously proposed a series of DCF reforms and repeatedly asked DCF Commissioner Joette Katz to consider policy changes. He has also called for Commissioner Katz to resign following multiple reports citing systemic failures within the DCF system.

“For the third time, for what it’s worth, I believe that Commissioner Katz needs to resign. It’s despicable that DCF is only meeting the needs of 44.4 percent of the children it serves. That’s down from 47.2 percent last year, which makes it egregious. The significant drop from where we were when Commissioner Katz took over in 2010 when DCF met the needs of 67.3% of its children demonstrates her inability to manage DCF. While Commissioner Katz has promised to get our state out from under the court monitor and dramatically improve outcomes for children, the system is in a downward spiral and children are hurting as a result. It’s absolutely inexcusable that the number of children getting the care they need drops each and every year. All while Commissioner Katz has rejected legislative proposals to improve quality control and oversight. Money is not the simple answer here. This is an issue of severe mismanagement and grossly misguided policies.

“When agency policies don’t include proper oversight and quality assurance, when they ignore the abuse that happens within their own facilities, and when they value meeting numerical goals over meeting the actual needs of children, the system is fundamentally flawed.

“Under current leadership we’ve seen an unprecedented number of child homicides involving children who should have been protected by DCF. The agency has ignored multiple known risk factors and has placed ‘family preservation’ above actual child safety in many cases. And we’ve seen a state facility where child abuse and self-harm exists at unacceptable levels. I don’t blame the case workers who work hard every day to protect the kids they care for. I blame management for allowing the system to weaken more and more each year, for rejecting proposals to strengthen child protection and increase accountability, and for charging full speed ahead with policies that advocates have questioned.

“This year the legislature needs to take action to reform DCF. We need to create an independent children and families ombudsman to give a voice to the children whom DCF is failing, we need to implement a quality assurance program for the entire agency, we need to improve the agency’s risk assessment program to ensure that children at risk are accurately and promptly identified and protected, and we need an independent review of DCF. We also need to look at ways to ensure child placement decisions reflect the best interests of a child and assess what Connecticut’s needs are compared to other states. Where do we fall short?

“For Commissioner Katz and Governor Malloy to remain silent on this issue is unacceptable. The state is responsible for the pain, suffering and death of far too many children. DCF needs serious reform, and the issue is far more complex than funding. More money will solve nothing unless the right policies are in place and implemented by effective and principled leadership.”