Fasano Calls on Malloy to Support Child Welfare Reform & Ask DCF Commissioner to Resign

February 17, 2017

Hartford – Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) wrote to Governor Dannel P. Malloy today asking the governor to stand in support of proposed reforms to the Department of Children & Families following two cases of child abuse reported in the past two days, including the death of a special needs teen in Hartford and the burning of a toddler in Rocky Hill – both of whom had been in homes under active or recent DCF supervision. Sen. Fasano is also again asking that Gov. Malloy call on DCF Commissioner Joette Katz to resign, and replace the commissioner with an agency head who is open to more transparency and oversight. Sen. Fasano’s full letter is attached.

“In the past two days there have been reports of two cases of absolutely inexcusable abuse and tragedy involving children who should have been protected by the Department of Children and Families. These cases, including the horrific death of a teen with special needs and the burning of a toddler, are beyond disturbing and heartbreaking and show inexcusable system failures within the agency that cannot be ignored,” Fasano wrote to Gov. Malloy.

“I am asking you, as I have in the past, to finally stand up for the children that DCF has failed and hear the advocates who have been calling for oversight reforms. I ask that you call for Commissioner Joette Katz to resign, and raise your voice in support of bipartisan proposals to increase controls of DCF by creating a child welfare oversight council, reforming the state’s child fatality review procedures, and establishing an independent DCF ombudsman.”

Sen. Fasano’s letter references the death of Matthew Tirado, a 17-year-old boy with special needs who was starved and had signs of physical abuse and broken bones. DCF was aware the mother of Tirado was keeping him from school and had closed the case on this child last month. Fasano also pointed to the abuse of a 2-year-old from Rocky Hill who sustained severe burns from 118 degree bathwater at the hands of the child’s mother’s boyfriend, who was not supposed to be alone with the child based on a “Voluntary Safety Agreement” between the mother of the child and DCF. These voluntary arrangements which allow children to remain in homes where they are at risk of abuse with no active DCF oversight are not authorized by statute and have no guidelines regarding appropriate use. Sen. Fasano also wrote to the Committee on Children yesterday to ask for a hearing on the Rocky Hill case and DCF’s unauthorized use of “Voluntary Safety Agreements.”

“Some tragedies can never be prevented. But in the two cases that have come to light this week, DCF had a chance to step in, but failed to do so. Instead the agency allowed these children to remain in homes where abuse was occurring. If these are not evidence of serious system failures that must be addressed I don’t know what will ever move you to stand up for change,” wrote Fasano. “Unless and until we have new leadership that is committed to greater transparency, accountability and oversight and that is willing to engage in systemic change, children will continue to suffer.”

Sen. Fasano asked the governor to support multiple proposals currently before the Committee on Children that have bipartisan support from some legislators.

“State lawmakers and you as governor must come together to support the proposals offered year after year to improve child welfare oversight. Anyone who opposes the proposals that have been put forward this year, including the creation of an oversight council, is rubber stamping the policies that have put vulnerable children directly in harm’s way,” Fasano wrote.

Full letter attached.