Fasano Calls Again for Commissioner Katz to Resign Amid Child Advocate Report

October 4, 2016

Child Advocate Report on Baby Dylan Shows Systemic Failures Throughout the Department of Children & Families, Failure to Follow State Law

Hartford – Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) is again calling on Department of Children & Families Commissioner Joette Katz to resign after reviewing the Office of the Child Advocate’s Investigative Report into the critical injuries of baby Dylan, a toddler who suffered from severe neglect and abuse while in state custody in a DCF relative foster home placement.

Despite significant warning signs that the relative foster home was not safe, including a prior substantiated history of child neglect, violence that included a criminal assault conviction and drug abuse, and despite the fact that more than a dozen DCF employees across four different DCF units were responsible for ensuring Dylan’s safety, Dylan was improperly placed and kept in a dangerous relative home by DCF for 5 months during which he was seriously abused and starved. DCF workers failed to even interact with Dylan to assess his condition for over three months. During each visit, Dylan was “asleep”, a red flag in and of itself for a 15 month old child, and yet the worker failed to awaken him to assess his physical and mental state, monitor his weight or otherwise ensure his wellbeing. Shockingly, the worker seems to think that simply confirming that Dylan was still “breathing” was sufficient.

“Anybody who has children will find this report chilling. This case provides a window into an agency that fails to follow the law and properly protect children. This is a problem of agency culture, and Commissioner Joette Katz must take full responsibility for this environment and the pattern of disturbing failures throughout multiple levels of her agency,” said Fasano.

“We all know DCF handles some of the most challenging and sensitive situations involving vulnerable children in difficult family situations. But enough is enough. How many more tragedies have to happen before Connecticut realizes that Commissioner Katz has failed? She has no control over the department. The agency’s inability to follow laws meant to protect children, the practice of knowingly placing children with foster parents who have a history of abuse, and the complete failure to monitor and enforce agency protocols show a lack of leadership throughout the agency. Commissioner Katz is ultimately responsible for these failures, as are the Democrat legislative leaders who have stood with the commissioner in rejecting calls for agency reform.

“Despite warnings from advocates and calls for change, Connecticut has continued down a path of limited oversight that has ultimately put children in harm’s way. I’ve asked for more oversight and monitoring and I’ve called for independent reviews. But Commissioner Katz and Democrat legislators have refused to implement these changes. That is why I am again asking for Commissioner Katz to resign as she has repeatedly shown she is incapable of managing her agency or taking constructive criticism to make sure the needed oversight is in place. Anyone who doesn’t demand Commissioner Katz resign at this point is acquiescing to the status quo and giving their stamp of approval to the way she is running her department. Not calling for change is accepting this situation and moving on. That’s not right,” Fasano said.

Fasano added, “Now we all understand why Commissioner Katz and the Democrat administration made such a big deal over their ‘Revised Exit Plan’ last week. It was a veiled attempt to try to fool the public into thinking that they were actually making headway when they knew this investigation was about to explode.”

“To sum up DCF’s total lack of compassion and care under this commissioner is to see that even after this 2-year-old survived extreme abuse and near death, DCF then began sending the same toddler to counseling and medical appointments in a taxi cab by himself with no one but the cab driver multiple times. Only after private case workers raised concerns with the Child Advocate did this practice stop. This exemplifies Commissioner Katz’s totally dysfunctional leadership and lack of compassion for some of the most vulnerable children.”