Department of Children and Families
At a Glance
DARLENE DUNBAR, MSW, Commissioner
Joyce Lee Taylor, MA, Deputy Commissioner
Heidi McIntosh, MSW, Deputy Commissioner
Karen L. Snyder, MA, Chief of Program Operations
Brian Mattiello, MA, Chief of Staff
Established ‑ 1970
Statutory authority - CGS Chapter 319
Central office – 505 Hudson Street,
Hartford, CT 06106
Average number of full‑time employees – 3,418
Recurring operational expenses - $ 608,419,256
Capital outlay ‑ $ 12,257,028
Organizational structure ‑ Office of the Commissioner; Bureau of Finance and Information Systems; Bureau of Continuous Quality Improvement; Bureau of Child Protection; Bureau of Behavioral Health, Medicine and Education; Bureau of Juvenile Services.
The mission of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families is to protect children, improve child and family well-being and support and preserve families. These efforts are accomplished by respecting and working within individual cultures and communities in Connecticut, and in partnership with others.
Positive Outcomes for Children
DCF enhanced its leadership capacity through an agreement to establish a Transition Task Force (TTF) and 22 specific outcomes to achieve in order to improve services for children and families. The Juan F. Federal Court Monitor and the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management joined Commissioner Dunbar in forming the TTF, which has decision-making authority on issues with a substantial impact on the safety and well-being of children served by DCF.
Early actions of the TTF have included:
· Decentralizing agency operations by creating 13 area offices for the purpose of providing services that are timely and tailored to the needs of individual families and to build stronger partnerships with families and communities;
· Lowering actual caseload sizes to increase the amount of time workers can spend with children and families. For the first time in the history of the Juan F. Consent Decree, the Department is meeting stringent caseload requirements; and
· Increasing the use of flexible funding to meet essential and specific needs for families in a timely manner so that families can stay together or be reunified.
· The Department received more than 100,000 calls to the DCF Hotline. These included 45,125 reports of suspected abuse or neglect, of which 31,284 were accepted for investigation.
· At any point in time, the Department provided child protection treatment services to more than 3,000 families whose children were living at home after a Department finding of abuse or neglect.
· In addition, more than 5,900 children in the Department’s custody because of abuse or neglect also received services.
· Voluntary services were provided to approximately 1,000 children at any one time. These children received residential and community based services to address complex behavioral health needs. Parents whose children qualify can ask for assistance and receive services from DCF funded programs without relinquishing guardianship to the Department.
Behavioral Health, Medicine and Education
· Foster Care and Adoption: The Department found permanent homes through adoption and subsidized guardianship for 585 children.
o Continuing momentum in the recruitment of foster and adoptive families, DCF licensed 128 new foster homes, 88 adoptive homes, 327 relative caregivers, 93 special study and 39 independent foster homes. A total of 675 families received a new license.
· The Independent Living College Program supported 183 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.
· Connecticut Community KidCare: KidCare, the Department’s mental health service delivery system for children with complex behavioral health needs, is comprised of an array of new community based services, designed to provide treatment alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization and residential treatment. Based on the federally endorsed System of Care model, KidCare is designed to promote collaboration between service partners, and families/caregivers and to offer culturally competent services within an individualized child-specific treatment planning model. Current services within the community based menu include:
Data from the first three quarters of FY2004 indicate that over 3,700 calls were generated to the Mobile Crisis Teams and over 700 families received care coordination services during this fiscal year. Intensive Home-based services that offer direct clinical and support services to families serve approximately 200 families at any given time. The Crisis Stabilization Units offer children the opportunity to receive crisis intervention services, psycho-social and clinical assessment, and community treatment planning in a safe environment when hospital level care is not indicated but when the child cannot return home due to the immediate severity of behavioral issues.
Plans have been developed to offer additional services in FY2005 including Therapeutic Mentoring, Behavioral Consultation and Comprehensive Global Assessment. In addition, the Department is in the process of procuring a more intensive level of crisis intervention, and home based support for families involved in the child welfare system whose children may require long-term help from the community. Family Support Teams will soon compliment the existing service array.
· PARK Project: In collaboration with the Bridgeport Schools and community providers, the Department procured a $9.5 million dollar federal grant to enhance community based services to children attending five targeted schools in Bridgeport. This project, now in its second year of funding, provides specialized care coordination services and family advocacy activities. The project also contracts for a variety of therapeutic after-school programs. School staff in all participating schools receive training in a curriculum-based program that teaches how to utilize positive behavioral interventions and support pro-social behavior within the student population.
· K-12 Mental Health Supports for Educational Success: A collaboration of DCF and the Department of Education, this prevention 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. The program has screened more than 1,000 children in four school districts. More than 450 children received additional services.
· Coordinating services with the Judicial Branch
§ The Department is assisting the Judicial Branch meet the terms of the Emily J. Consent Decree regarding the Judicial-run detention center by instituting a variety of service improvements. Among these are:
o An intensive two-week multi-disciplinary evaluation for youth;
o Community based treatment services;
o Community psychiatric time; and
o Participation in detention screening and case planning.
· The Department improved how it assists the Judicial Branch in Family With Service Needs (FWSN) cases by establishing a new protocol to support early intervention and that enables better access to services.
· Two new programs to meet the gender specific needs of girls who are adjudicated delinquents were prepared to open Summer 2004.
o A 16-bed physically secure residential program run by Natchaug Hospital was developed to serve girls with a psychiatric disorder.
o A 14-bed residential program for girls in need of thorough assessment prior to receiving services in a more long-term program also began serving girls.
· Development of an additional 20 beds at two existing residential programs for girls is expected to be complete in the Fall 2004.
Improvements at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School
· The Department launched an action plan to improve safety and security at the Training School for boys in Middletown. The action plan is focused on four areas:
o A full seven-day-a-week schedule of activities is under development to reduce idleness through worthwhile and meaningful programs. The expanded schedule will emphasize activities during non-school hours: in the late afternoon, evenings and weekends.
o An improved behavior management program and disciplinary policies will be developed by CJTS staff and consultants to empower staff to safely and effectively manage youth behavior in a way that is fair, constitutional, and that establishes an improved climate for youth and staff.
o An admissions and classification system will be developed to fully identify the needs of youths, and a new admissions unit will be established. The development of new and specialized treatment units that correspond to the specific needs identified by the new classification system will be investigated.
o Comprehensive staff training in all of these changes will be implemented.
Continuous Quality Improvement
· Quality Improvement staff has developed case study review instruments in order to evaluate the achievement of specific outcomes as required by the Consent Decree Exit Plan.
· In collaboration with representatives from the Court Monitor’s Office, the Department conducted a system-wide needs assessment to serve as a baseline to measure future program improvements.
· The Department developed evaluation studies and produced reports on the extent to which staff follow a child-centered, family-focused model. The study will be used as a baseline against which to compare improvements.
· In conjunction with residential service providers and child guidance clinics, the Department began work on the development of a web-based reporting system to track provision of behavioral health services to children and families served by these providers.
· The Department established procedures for an implemented consultation and technical assistance to residential service providers regarding compliance with the federal Private Non-Medical Insurance (PNMI) initiative.
· Quality Improvement Teams have been established in each area office and facility.
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, and other state officials, as well as a system for resolving outstanding issues. Significant progress has been made in resolving client inquires. A total of 1,651 inquires were received and resolved within a standard timeframe.
· The Department has indentifed 23 categories by which inquires are classified. Those categories are: abuse/neglect, administrative hearings, adoption, case practice, custody, educational, general information, investigation concerns, legal rights questions, medical, mental health, payments, placement, problems obtaining resources, request for documentation, request for a meeting, reunification, safety, substantiation hearings, visitation, voluntary services, worker complaints and other.
· To assist with the enhancement of service delivery, monthly reports are submitted to each area office and facility regarding the number of inqiuries by type and source.
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: 47 percent of our full-time workforce and 34 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.