Department of Children and Families
At a Glance
DARLENE DUNBAR, MSW, Commissioner
Heidi McIntosh, 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
Average number of full-time employees – 3,489
Recurring operational expenses -
Capital outlay - $2,660,183
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.
Organizational structure - Office of the Commissioner, Finance and
Information Systems, Bureau of Continuous Quality Improvement, Bureau of Child
Welfare, Bureau of Behavioral Health and Medicine, Bureau of Juvenile Services,
Bureau of Adoption and Interstate Compact Services, Division of Multi-Cultural
Affairs, Bureau of External Affairs, Prevention, Early Intervention and the
Office of the Ombudsman, and the Bureau of Adolescent and Transitional
Children’s Place (CCP)
Training School (CJTS)
Riverview Hospital for Children
The Department took advantage of fiscal
year 2006 to make unprecedented progress in improving the quality of services
children and families while staff continued to make strides in achieving the
goals contained in the Juan F.
Consent Decree and Exit Plan. During the first quarter of 2006 (the last for
which the Federal Court Monitor issued a report as of this writing), Department
staff reached their highest performance over the nine quarters of the Exit
Plan. Of 20 measures captured, staff attained goals in 15 – two more than
achieved at any previous point.
Three outcomes were achieved for the first
time. Four outcomes have been achieved consistently over a two-year span and
six outcomes have been achieved consistently for 18 months or more. For two of
the five outcomes that the Department did not meet, staff came within less than
a single percent, specifically placement within licensed capacity and reducing
reliance on residential placements. In a third, the Department has doubled the
percentage of appropriate referrals for continuing services beyond the point of
discharge from care for children with mental illness or mental retardation.
Overall, the most recent quarterly report
filed with the federal court shows staff met the following outcomes:
- Commencement Of Investigations: The goal of 90 percent was exceeded for the
sixth quarter in a row with a current achievement of 96.2 percent, tying
the highest ever since measurement began in the Fourth Quarter of 2004.
- Completion Of Investigations: Workers completed investigations in a timely
manner in 94.2 percent of cases, also exceeding the goal of 85 percent for
the sixth consecutive quarter and also tying the highest level ever under
the Exit Plan.
- Search For Relatives: For the second time, staff achieved the 85
percent goal for relative searches and met this requirement for 89.9
percent of children.
- Repeat Maltreatment: For the first time under the Exit Plan, the goal
of seven percent was achieved with 6.3 percent of children experiencing
- Maltreatment Of Children In Out-of-Home Care: The Department sustained achievement of the goal
of two percent or less for the ninth consecutive quarter with an actual
measure of 0.4 percent, the lowest ever under the Exit Plan.
- Timely Reunification: For the third consecutive quarter, this measure
exceeded the 60 percent goal with a mark of 66.4 percent, the highest
- Timely Adoption: For the second time in the last three quarters and the third
time overall, staff exceeded the 32 percent goal for the timely completion
of adoptions within 24 months by meeting the timeline for 40.8 percent of
the children, the highest recorded under the Exit Plan.
- Re-entry Into Care: For the first time, the Department met the
seven percent goal for re-entry into care by recording a measure of 6.7
- Multiple Placements: For the eighth consecutive quarter, the
Department exceeded the 85 percent goal with a rate of 96.2 percent.
- Foster Parent Training: For the eighth consecutive quarter, the
Department met the 100 percent goal.
Visitation In Out Of Home Cases: For the second consecutive quarter
and three of the last four, the Department met the 85 percent goal for
maintaining regular visits by meeting requirements in 86.8 percent of out
of home cases, the highest to date.
- Worker To Child Visitation In In-Home Cases: For the second
consecutive quarter, workers met required visitation frequency in 96.5
percent of cases, thereby exceeding the 85 percent standard and reaching
the highest level to date. The percent of in-home cases where visitation
standards were met has more than doubled since the Exit Plan began at the
start of 2004.
- Caseload Standards: For the eighth consecutive quarter, no
Department social worker carried more cases than the standard under the
- Discharge Measures: For the third consecutive quarter and the
fourth time overall under the Exit Plan, staff met the 85 percent goal for
ensuring children discharged at age 18 from state care had attained either
educational and/or employment goals.
- Multi-disciplinary Exams: For the first time, Department staff met the
85 percent goal by ensuring that 91.1 percent of children entering care
received a timely multi-disciplinary exam.
In addition to areas where staff met the
goals, other measures are now close and/or show tremendous improvements since
the Exit Plan began in early 2004. For the quarter, reducing reliance on
residential placements came within 0.3 percent of attaining the 11 percent
goal. Progress is carrying forward into the second quarter of 2006. As of July
24, 10.7 percent of children in care are in a residential placement – meeting
the goal for the first time. As a result, 247 additional children are in a more
appropriate and less restrictive level of care compared to April 11, 2004. That
translates to a 27 percent reduction in 28 months. Although not an outcome
measure itself, the State has made even more dramatic improvements in reducing
reliance on out-of-state care. In only 21 months, 194 fewer children are in an
out of state residential program for behavioral health treatment. That is a 39.5 percent reduction
since September 2004.
- The Department received more than 93,000 calls to
the hotline. These included 43,562 reports of suspected abuse or neglect,
of which 36,361 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
- In addition, more than 6,300 children in the
Department’s custody because of abuse or neglect also received services.
Foster Care/ Adoption and Interstate Compact
administers four distinct interstate compacts through the Bureau of
Adoption and Interstate Compact Services to facilitate the placement and
movement of children across state lines. The most frequently used is the
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, which monitors the
placement of children crossing state lines for the purposes of foster
care, relative care, adoption, and residential care. The Bureau also
administers the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, the Interstate Compact on
Mental Health and the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical
Adoption and Subsidized Guardianship
- Connecticut supports the adoption
of children from the public child welfare system by providing a financial
and medical subsidy to those children deemed "special
needs." Connecticut also supports the permanent
placement of children with relatives by providing a financial and medical
subsidy to relatives willing to provide a home to their relative children
in the public child welfare system.
- Timely permanency has become a primary
focus for the Department. In particular, the timeliness of adoptions
through the Department has improved dramatically with the percentage of
adoptions finalized in two years or less having nearly quadrupled from
only 10.7 percent in the first quarter of 2004 to 40.8 percent in the
first quarter of 2006. The timeliness of subsidized guardianships also has
met the Exit Plan standards in two of the last four quarters of the period
ending in the first quarter of 2006. The timeliness of family
reunifications has met the standards for three consecutive quarters ending
in the first quarter of 2006.
- The Department finalized 498 adoptions
and 308 subsidized guardianships in FY2006.There are currently on the
books approximately 5,000 children in subsidized adoptive homes and over
1,600 in subsidized guardianship homes.
- One of the most successful recruitment
tools used by the Department to recruit adoptive homes for waiting
children is the Heart Gallery. Every year professional photographers take
professional pictures of children who are "waiting to be
adopted." and their pictures are displayed in an art gallery or a
similar venue. During the FY 2005-06 there have been five Heart Galleries
- The Department licensed new “resource” homes
licensed to provide temporary or permanent care for children. DCF licensed
160 new foster homes, 113 adoptive homes, 297 relative homes, 55
independent foster homes, 124 Special Study homes for a total of 749 in
the first three quarters of FY2005-06.
- Voluntary Services were provided to approximately
1,100 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
Behavioral Health and Medicine
Therapeutic Group homes
- During FY2005, the Department began a major
initiative developing therapeutic group homes in local communities. Three
existed at the beginning of this expansion. From April 2005 through June
2006, 26 new homes opened. An additional 24 are anticipated to open during
FY2007. These homes, each caring for five to six children, allow children
and adolescents who are either not ready or appropriate for foster homes
to be served in small home-like settings, thereby reducing the dependence
on larger residential placements. The youth served have a wide variety of
behavioral health and or developmental disabilities. Virtually all youth
have a history of some sort of trauma. These therapeutic group homes have
helped to reduce the number of children in residential placement by 247 or
27 percent in the 28 months since April 2004.
- Over the past six years, Connecticut Community
Kidcare, the Department’s mental health service delivery system for
children with complex behavioral health needs, has developed and enhanced
the state’s community-based service infrastructure. KidCare has supported the development of
a statewide emergency mobile crisis service for children and adolescents
and a variety of other services, including care coordination, extended day
treatment, and intensive home based services. Based on the federally
endorsed “system of care” model, Kidcare is designed to promote
collaboration between service providers and families/caregivers and to
offer culturally competent services within an individualized,
child-specific treatment-planning model.
- During the first three quarters of fiscal year
FY2006, more than 6,000 calls were made to the 16 mobile crisis teams that
provide statewide coverage to children experiencing a mental health
crisis. The majority of calls continue to be initiated by caregivers or
school personnel. Calls result in phone consultation, on-site intervention
with follow-up care provided or arranged, or triage to hospital emergency
departments or crisis stabilization units.
Coverage is 24/7, 365 days a year, and phone response is within 15
minutes. Approximately 1,350 children received care coordination services
and utilized the variety of community-based service options that KidCare
funded programs provide. At any one
time, 432 children receive extended day treatment and 180 families receive
intensive in-home services as well as care coordination services.
- In October 2005, Connecticut was
one of seven states awarded a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration (SAMHSA) mental health “transformation”
grant. The grant application was
based on a cooperative agreement developed between 15 state agencies,
including the Department and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction
Services acting as the lead agency.
The goals of the “transformation” grant are entirely consistent
with the Department’s KidCare initiative.
Behavioral Health Partnership
- Governor Rell and the 2005 General Assembly
enacted legislation establishing the Connecticut Behavioral Health
Partnership (CT BHP) as a joint initiative of the Department and the
Department of Social Services (DSS). This partnership, which enables the
two departments to procure and jointly direct an Administrative Services
Organization (ASO), represents the final stage of the KidCare reform.
The ASO is a
state-contracted entity designed to help DCF and DSS develop a common
administrative infrastructure and enhance the quality and delivery of
state-funded behavioral health care. It replaces the managed care organizations
that have historically authorized, monitored, and paid for behavioral health
services for enrolled members, as well as the DCF grant-funded system. The ASO is a single organization that
operates under guidelines developed by DSS and DCF with input from consumers
and providers. Value Options is the Connecticut ASO Agency.
staff answers approximately 2,000 calls a month from consumers addressing
questions about the ASO. They are referred to service providers within the
network and local community support networks. The provider relation’s staff has
been averaging 1,800 calls per month from providers seeking help or
information. Also to date, more than
1,500 children in out-of-home care are known to the partnership.
contractual agreement, the ASO enrolls members (HUSKY A children and adults,
HUSKY B children and non-HUSKY eligible children who are DCF involved and who
have specialized behavioral health needs), guides them to appropriate levels of
care, tracks and monitors care throughout the system, provides feedback to DCF
and DSS on the quality of care being provided and offers technical assistance
to consumers and providers. Additional information about the Connecticut
Behavioral Health Partnership, (BHP) and the services provided by the
Administrative Services Organization can be accessed by going to the CT BHP
website at www.ctbhp.com.
- In 2002, the Department, in collaboration with
parents, the Bridgeport schools and local
community providers, received a six-year, $9.5 million grant to build a
community-based service “system of care” in the city of Bridgeport. The initiative, called the
Partnership For Kids or PARK Project, is now in its fourth year of funding
and has helped over 180 families with behavioral and mental health
challenges get needed services that allow children and youth to remain in
school and in their own community. It is a school-based system of care
with staff located in the schools targeted. The project has reduced
problem behaviors, increasing functioning, increased utilization of
strengths for the youth, and a decrease in internal strain for themselves.
The schools report that the program reduces office referrals for students
and enables clearer identification of students with severe emotional and
Bureau of Adolescent and Transitional Services
- Mentoring: Mentoring provides youth with a contact to their
community other than the DCF Social Worker. Mentors and youth work
together on a one to one basis to resolve issues identified by the youth.
Approximately 250 youths benefit from a mentor in this program.
- Independent Living College
Program: The program supports
foster care/adoptive youth in continuing education programs including,
four-year and two-year colleges and universities, as well as in vocational
and technical programs. Youth are required to obtain grants and
scholarships, contribute $500 per year of their own funds, and remain in
good academic standing. The program currently serves 482 full-time and
Casey Initiative: This program,
which assisted 75 youths in FY06, is designed to insure that youth “aging
out” of foster care have increased opportunities for a successful
transition to adulthood by offering assistance in employment, housing,
physical and mental health, youth leadership and youth engagement.
Skills Program: DCF offers community-based life skills
education and training programs for youth in foster care and community
settings. There are now thirteen contracted Life Skills Programs across Connecticut,
offering services to approximately 239 youths.
- Other programs include the Youth Advisory Boards,
CHAP program that assists with subsidized housing, the re-entry into care
program, and the Safe Harbors program which provides training and services
on issues regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender youth and
Connecticut Juvenile Training School: (CJTS)
- CJTS has established a
Positive Peer Culture program and significantly reduced the number of
- CJTS has launched an
innovative Boys and Girls Club program to assist boys returning to Hartford and New
Britain successfully re-integrate into their
communities. The Boys and Girls Club also offers regular programming to
all the boys at CJTS.
- A mentoring program
stocked with volunteer CJTS staff and other caring adults offers the boys
an opportunity to create relationships that have a positive impact on
their lives even after the boys leave CJTS.
- A re-entry initiative
has begun with the Department of Labor and Trade unions to link boys to
career opportunities in painting, carpentry and masonry.
- CJTS continues efforts
to prepare boys for successful community re-entry through innovative
educational, treatment and rehabilitative services. The facility is
nearing completion of the FY2006 strategic plan that includes the
Create, cultivate and maintain a therapeutic environment;
Develop and implement a comprehensive re-entry system that builds upon
each child’s unique strengths and needs;
Promote family partnerships and enhance family participation;
Promote a commitment to continuous quality improvement through the
implementation of a comprehensive quality improvement program: and
Develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive staff development
- Of the 218 admissions
in 2005, 37 percent were admitted directly from court, 31 percent from
residential placement, 18 percent from home, 8 percent from AWOL status
(either from a pass from CJTS or from residential placement), 6 percent
from an adult correctional facility, and less than 1 percent from a
hospital. The average length of
stay for boys discharged from CJTS in 2005 was 4.9 months.
Coordinating Services with Judicial Branch
The Emily J. settlement
agreement has resulted in the development and implementation of $6 million in new or expanded community-based
services over the next two years. These
services began as a pilot in Hartford
in FY 2006 and are expanding statewide in FY 2007. Services include:
treatment foster care;
therapeutic group home for girls;
Family based substance
The Department has been
working steadily on a joint juvenile justice strategy plan with Court Support
Services Division (CSSD) of the Judicial Branch, and numerous stakeholders
including parents, advocates, providers, and other state agencies. DCF and CSSD
continue cooperative work as outlined in the protocol for Families with Service
Needs (FWSN) cases. DCF has created a
team that includes management and liaison staff to work with the juvenile court
system at all levels, to provide a coordinated response and earlier services to
families with service needs.
Girls’ Programs and Services
The Department has continued to work with private providers to ensure
that girls receive gender-specific services. In addition to case consultation
and program monitoring, the focus has been on the implementation of standards
for residential treatment providers, the development of alternatives to
residential care through the opening of group homes, the use of
Multidimensional Family Therapy, and continued work to address the need for a
secure program for a small number of delinquent girls.
The “STEP” (Support
Teams for Educational Progress) Program provides comprehensive transition and
reintegration services for committed delinquent children and for Family with
Service Needs (FWSN) involved children. Key components include a reintegration
team with case management, educational re-entry assistance, and delinquency
prevention. The goals of the program include reducing recidivism, school
suspensions, expulsions and truancy, as well as improving school attendance and
achievement. The program is designed to increase the number of children on
parole who are serviced in the community and reducing the need for secure
treatment. The program will increase collaboration between local community
schools and providers in the Juvenile Justice System as well as increase
support and services to engage families in treatment. The outcome will be an
increase in pro-social behaviors and positive goal attainment activities by
delinquent and FWSN children in the program. The program is slated to begin in Hartford in August 2006.
Parole services reorganized to provide an array of
services that are child-centered, community-oriented, and that will enhance
children’s ability to successfully and safely re-integrate within their
families and comminitues. The reorganization will enable social workers to
concentrate in specific geographical areas, and each of the nine parole units
will have a gender-specific social worker. In an effort to maintain children in
the least restrictive setting, in-home therapy and counseling services are
being incorporated to allow more children on parole to remain in the community.
Additionally, parole is implementing an evidence-based risk and needs
assessment system to ensure that children on parole receive appropriate
services that take into considernation their strengths and needs. This will
guide parole services from initial commitment through treatment planning, and
will allow improved tracking of the rate of recidivism and success.
Quality Improvement Division collaborated on a comprehensive qualitative case
review to determine the extent to which the agency is meeting its performance
mandates as outlined by the consent decree exit plan. Areas of strength and those needing
improvement were identified and utilized to help govern the agency’s practices
and resource allocations.
- Quality Improvement staff conducted case study reviews to evaluate
specific child welfare outcomes as required by the Exit Plan.
- The Department established procedures for an implemented
consultation and technical assistance to residential service providers
regarding compliance with the federal private non-medical insurance
- Development efforts and activities continued to enhance the
structure, action plans, learning forums, and goals of the quality
improvement teams previously established in each area office and facility.
- The Department continued to meet the requirement of the six-month
periodic review of the status of each child through the treatment planning
conference (TPC) and administrative case review (ACR) process. Enhancements were made to the process to
increase participation and make it more family friendly. Improvements
include the introduction of audio conferencing services and enhanced
efforts to reach out to parents, foster parents, service providers and
others to gain greater participation.
- The Department began collecting restraint and seclusion data from
out-of-state providers. This
involves collecting data on the frequency of restraints for Connecticut
children and for all children in out-of-state facilities we utilize. Comparisons will be made on frequencies
of restraints and seclusions for all programs, in and out of state, that
children. We continue to collect performance-based contracting data on
in-state residential facilities and post this information to the DCF
- A quality improvement study was completed to examine the factors
related to the repeat occurrence of child abuse and neglect, including the
impact of visitation and substance abuse in these cases. Results were utilized in an effort to
reduce repeat maltreatment of children.
- A qualitative review of fair hearing decisions which was conducted
to ensure a greater understanding of the process and the reasons for
upholding or reversing agency findings of abuse or neglect.
- In collaboration with other state agencies, the Bureau has
developed and refined statewide behavioral health response teams to
provide disaster and trauma recovery to communities following critical
events and emergencies resulting from natural disasters or from acts of
- The Bureau’s licensing unit collaborated with other Department
sectors to open 27 therapeutic group homes last fiscal year.
- The Bureau played a major role in the drafting and implementation
of Public Act 05-207, which established criteria and a formal hearing
process for the management of the Child Abuse and Neglect Central
- 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.
action and equal employment are immediate and priority objectives and they
play an important and necessary role in all stages of the employment
process. Currently 46 percent of our full-time workforce and 33 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
Bureau of External Affairs
The Office of the
Ombudsman continues to track and respond to requests for information from
private citizens, the Office of the Child Advocate, and other state officials.
The total number of inquiries responded to in SFY06 was approximately 4,000.
The office has
assigned staff to each of the DCF-operated facilities to listen and respond to
concerns of residents.
Each of the DCF
area office and facility appointed representatives are working with central
office staff to develop a five -year prevention plan. Representatives from
other public and private service providers, parents, youths, and legislators
will be invited to participate in the planning process.
In April 2006,
parents in the New Haven
area were taught baby-soothing techniques by an expert pediatrician to prevent
child abuse and shaken baby syndrome. In addition to the teaching session,
participants received educational teaching DVD’s. Approximately 100 parents
attended. A public education campaign was supported by broadcast and print
- Early Childhood programs currently
offered through the Department support the social and emotional health of
families and children age’s birth through six. These programs include the Early
Childhood Consultation Partnership and the Parents in Partnership
- The Early Childhood Consultation
Partnership: It is estimated that ten percent to 20 percent of the
preschool population is in need of social or emotional support. In Connecticut, over 400 children were
expelled or suspended from preschool during the past three years. The
Early Childhood Consultation Partnership (ECCP), begun in 2003, is a successful
and nationally recognized statewide program funded by the Department and
managed by a private service provider.
ECCP is one of the first statewide data-driven systems of mental
health consultation designed specifically to meet the social and emotional
needs of children from birth to five years of age by building the capacity
of those caring for young children through the provision of on-site
education and consultation in early care settings. Early childhood mental
health consultants promote and facilitate early identification of young
children's needs and respond with appropriate social and emotional
services, community-based collaboration, and referrals to other service
providers. The goal of the program is
to enhance the development of social and emotional resiliency and to
prevent children from disrupting from their early care settings. To date, 887 children in 333 early care
settings have been served with a 98 percent success rate of maintaining
the child in their current childcare setting.
- The Parent in Partnership Programs: Implemented in the early
1990's, these programs have served close to 2,000 families who have been
identified as neglecting or abusing their children or to be at-risk of
neglect or abuse. Participants have
included parents with mental illness, parents with cognitive challenges,
teen parents and substance abusing parents. Children are between the ages of birth
and six years old. The Parent in
Partnership model is able to offer center-based playgroups, home visits,
social activities and parent education as well as to link families to
community providers. Supports are
provided several times a week through a combination of these options. These programs are able to offer
long-term supports to families.
Families participate for an average of 18 months. The success rate for families is judged
to be an absence of re-referral or referral to the Department of Children
and Families. The success rate of
these programs is 96 percent.
- On December 1, 2005, the Department
implemented provisions of Public Act 05-207, which establishes notice,
hearing, and appeals procedures for people that the Department finds
reasonable cause to believe are responsible for neglecting or abusing a
child. It prohibits the Commissioner from placing the name of a suspected
abuser on its registry unless it is determined that the person poses a
risk to children.
Division of Multicultural Affairs:
The demands for the development of
culturally and linguistically competent services is a major challenge facing
human services and behavioral health providers today. The shifts in
racial, ethnic, linguistic, religious, special needs, disability, and
gender-orientation diversity have required that the Department discover
approaches and skills that will enable us to effectively work with people from
The Division of Multicultural Affairs was created for the purpose of
developing, implementing, and sustaining diversity initiatives and policies
designed to support the diverse needs of staff and clients regardless of their
race, religion, color, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation,
age, social economic status, or language.