Department of Children and Families
At a Glance
DARLENE DUNBAR, MSW, Commissioner
James Carr, MS, MSW, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Staff
Joyce Lee Taylor, MA, Deputy Commissioner
Karen L. Snyder, MA, Assistant Commissioner
Established ‑ 1970
Statutory authority - CGS Chapter 319
Central office – 505 Hudson Street,
Hartford, CT 06106
Average number of full‑time employees – 3,255
Recurring operating expenses - $ 586,834,068
Capital outlay ‑ $ 4,548,547
Organizational structure ‑ Office of the Commissioner; Bureau of Finance and Information Systems; Bureau of Quality Management; Bureau of Child Protection; Bureau of Behavioral Health, Medicine and Education; Bureau of Juvenile Justice.
The mission of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families is to protect children, strengthen families, help young people reach their fullest potential through permanency and the provision of mental health and substance abuse services, and effectively meet the multiple needs of the children in our juvenile justice system.
Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Health
· Connecticut Community KidCare: KidCare, an early intervention system for children with behavioral health needs that will prevent children from developing more severe needs and reduce placements in a residential or hospital settings, made significant strides this year. Working with the departments of Social Services and Mental Health and Addiction Services to form the Behavioral Health Partnership, the Department operationalized more than $21 million in community based services, including:
· Other Mental Health Initiatives:
o In collaboration with the City of Bridgeport, the Department secured a $9.5 million federal grant to enhance KidCare community-based behavioral health services in Bridgeport. The six-year project will bring services and supports to five targeted schools.
· K-12 Mental Health Supports for Educational Success: A collaboration of DCF and the Department of Education, this program promotes the development of social and emotional skills, reduces the number of children requiring mental health treatment, and reduces the number of children who are removed and suspended from public schools. Four school districts participate in the program that has screened over 4,000 children. More than 1,000 children have received additional services.
Child Protection & Adolescent Services
· The Department received 101,614 calls to the DCF Hotline. These included 45,627 reports of suspected abuse or neglect, of which 33,448 were accepted for investigation.
· The Independent Living College Program supported 228 foster care youth who attended a two- or four-year college. Youth are required to obtain grants and scholarships, contribute $500 of their own earnings, and maintain good grades. The state contribution leverages an equal amount of resources that come from these other sources.
Foster Care and Adoption
· The Department found permanent homes through adoption and subsidized guardianship for 628 children.
· Continuing momentum in the recruitment of foster and adoptive families, DCF licensed 54 new foster homes, 36 adoptive homes, 80 relative caregivers, 32 special study and 19 independent foster homes. A total of 221 families received a new license.
o 32 staff are receiving the academic training needed for certification as a substance abuse counselor;
o All residential staff received training on suicide prevention;
o The Youth Council provides input to managers on a variety of facility issues. The Council meets weekly and already has affected policy.
o A point level system to hold youth accountable for their behavior while encouraging good behavior was put into effect. Youth can earn a variety of incentives.
o A residential continuum has been established to more effectively address youth needs and reward youth who are making the best progress in their rehabilitation and are working toward discharge. One separate unit was established for youth who are behaviorally challenged. A separate unit was also created for the highest functioning youth who are approaching discharge.
o The Cady School has established and improved a variety of educational and vocational programming, including computer technology, a print shop, a chess club, and music and video production. For the first time, youth in DCF’s care will be able to take the SAT and PSAT tests at this location in preparation for going to college.
· Girls Programs: When Long Lane School was closed, alternative community programs were developed or began development, including:
o A new 12-bed unit for girls opened at the DCF-run Connecticut Children’s Place. A new privately-run program with nine beds also opened.
o Plans are underway to expand two existing private all-girls programs by a total of 20 beds and to develop two new private community programs with a total of 33 beds.
· The Department developed evaluation studies and produced reports on topic areas including: achievement measures on discharge, the quality of contracted medical and mental health services, foster care recruitment and retention, and the adequacy of foster parent training for children with special medical/mental health needs.
· The Department sponsored research on the effectiveness of SAFE Homes and Connecticut’s continuum of care project, and developed the Connecticut Consortium for Applied Child Welfare Research.
· In conjunction with shelter providers, the Department created an internet-based data collection system to evaluate performance and service effectiveness.
Office of Intergovernmental and Community Relations
· The Department developed a database for tracking requests for information from private citizens, the Office of the Child Advocate, the Governor’s Office and Legislators. A system for resolving outstanding issues also was developed.
Information Reported as Required by State Statute
The Department is committed to an aggressive and comprehensive affirmative action plan to assure equal employment opportunity as well as to provide services and programs to the public in a fair and culturally-competent manner. The plan provides quality assurance to DCF by ensuring a culturally-competent and diverse workforce needed to provide the best quality services to our children and families. Affirmative action and equal employment are immediate and priority objectives, and they play an important and necessary role in all stages of the employment process. Our diversity is our strength: more than 40 percent of our full-time workforce and more than 30 percent of top managers are persons of color.
The Department fully supports the state code of Fair Practices and federal and constitutional mandates concerning affirmative action and equal employment opportunity.