The latest report from the federal monitor of the state Department of Children and Families shows that the agency maintained compliance with five of 10 measures that are part of a court supervised exit plan, but is still failing to meet the remaining five – including those related to hiring and caseloads.
“I think it’s encouraging that they maintained compliance” for half the measures, said Martha Stone, one of the original lawyers who filed the case known as “Juan F.” against the agency in 1989. However, Stone, who is executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, said, “I think with a new commissioner, it’s important for them to double down on the remaining five.”
The Juan F. class action lawsuit charged that the state was failing to provide necessary services for abused and neglected children and youth. A consent decree calling for reforms was signed in 1991 and the state’s child welfare agency has been under a federal court monitor’s supervision since 1992.
Ray Mancuso, the current court-appointed monitor of the state’s child-welfare agency, wrote in the report released Monday (02/26) that, among the measures that did not meet the established standards, the most concerning issues continue to be excessive caseloads for social workers, the department’s investigatory practices, the case planning process, meeting the service needs of children and families, and appropriate visitation practices by DCF staff.
Normally, the court monitor’s report includes a statement from the Department of Children and Families but this one did not because the newly-appointed commissioner, Vannessa Dorantes, was not in office during the time period covered by Mancuso’s review. Dorantes replaced former Commissioner Joette Katz, who served for eight years under Gov. Dannel Malloy.
Dorantes’ office issued a statement on her behalf:
“I look forward to working together with the Court Monitor’s Office and Children’s Rights to continue to make progress under the Juan F. Exit Plan. I am confident that we all are committed to improving how the Department works with families and communities in order to advance the wellbeing of the children we serve. By working together as a team, we can be the most successful in improving the lives of children and families.”
The latest report covers the second and third quarters of 2018 and is filled with a multitude of measures that the monitor is covering as part of a revised exit plan for the court case…TO READ MORE CLICK HERE