The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (CT DCF) is given about a billion taxpayer dollars a year. CT DCF has roughly 4,300 children in its custody on any given day. CT DCF is touted as an institution whose job it is to protect children and be a parent for children without parents, namely children who have been removed by CT DCF because their parent’s were allegedly being abusive/neglectful.
If DCF was actually doing that job and doing it well, I think we can all agree it would be worth the incredible amount of money CT DCF is handed and their work would be commendable. Each of those child’s lives and welfare is priceless. Each of those children deserves love.
Unfortunately, the facts do not seem to support this. It seems children in CT DCF’s custody suffer more abuse than children in the general population. They get abused by foster parents. They get abused by CT DCF staff. CT DCF touts itself as a parent for these thousands of children, but it is actually often worse of a parent than the types of parents from which it would take children away. In fact, CT DCF has one of the highest percentage rates of children who age out in the country.
For the kids who make it through custody at DCF despite the prevalence of abuse in foster care and group homes, many are simply thrown out onto the streets. While roughly 500 kids turn 18 in CT DCF’s custody each year, over 300 foster children “age-out” of the system each year with no permanent placement.
CT DCF has failed so many children that it has been subject to federal monitoring. In the monitor’s recent report, he wrote, “The situation has worsened. Even extraordinary efforts by social workers and social work supervisors cannot compensate for the system-level problems that persist.” Examples included children under DCF custody who needed glasses but were not given them or who needed medical/psychological care but were put on waiting lists.
As an example of the above, a recent scandal has made national headlines: CT DCF recently placed a 16-year-old black trans girl–“Jane Doe”–in an adult prison without any charges being filed against her. There she spends 22-23 hours in solitary, has to have guards watch her shower and suffer the other indignities and great risks of prison life. Jane was allegedly sexually abused by a DCF worker in one home and raped by a boy when in a different facility while in DCF custody. It appears CT DCF took this child at a very young age who was surely troubled already by abuse and then added to it by putting her through more abuse and then setting new grounds even for itself by putting her in prison without charges. While what DCF has done to Jane appears to be clearly unconstitutional, she remains in adult prison without charges, approaching the 30 day mark.
Of course, Jane Doe’s story is just one example of how CT DCF appears to not only be failing to help Connecticut children but instead adding to their troubles.
It is completely unacceptable that so many children are not only being failed by CT DCF but that CT DCF is actually making matters worse for these children. A complete overhaul of the system is needed. I believe it is clear the major players at DCF need to be fired, many investigations need to take place into abuse by staff or by DCF workers negligently placing kids in abusive foster homes; statistics including those reflecting allegations of abuse by foster parents and DCF workers need to be made clearly and transparently available to the public; and the big players at CT DCF–namely CT DCF Commissioner Katz–need to be fired for so grossly failing these children.
Our children deserve better.
Unfortunately, such goals may be hard to reach if this child-endangering corruption is not limited to CT DCF but also runs through the whole political and judicial system, which many would argue. Remember in CT DCF alone over a billion dollars is being thrown around. That’s a lot of money for greedy people to misuse instead of putting towards actually helping children.
It is also quite likely that many of these problems outlined in this post with CT DCF also apply in parallel with other states’ and countries’ official child protective agencies. If you have a story or access to statistics regarding the effectiveness of these agencies, please share by submitting a comment below. Otherwise, please still use the comment section below to offer your feedback on this topic.
Also: There is rally outside of DCF headquarters in Hartford, CT tomorrow May 9th at 1pm to demand “Jane Doe” be removed from prison. So if you are in the Connecticut area, please attend. Learn more via the event page on facebook and with the hashtag #justiceforjane.
What do you think?