Monday, October 20, 2008

CT - DCF Investigative Hearing - Or How To Waste More Taxpayer Money In Four Hours

Yes, I attended this "hearing" today (from 10:00 am till 2:00 pm) and quite frankly as a CT taxpayer I was appalled at the softball questions fielded in the three hours after the hour long testimony given by the panel of four: Attorney General Blumenthal, Secretary of Office of Policy and Management Robert Genuario, DCF Commissioner Susan Hamilton and Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein. They were all there in front of members of the Select Committee on Children and the Human Services Committee to answer the question: Are children and families better off because of their involvement with DCF?

Heck, they didn't even scratch the surface of that question, and the questions put out to the panel of four after their testimony was just incredibly anemic. In fact, after the meeting broke up after 4 hours of "discussion", I overheard Hamilton and her folks say, "Gee, this could have been much worse".

Well, it should have been much worse. A baby is dead at the hands of a DCF employee, countless other children are being routinely drugged and restrained, and it costs taxpayers $864,685 per child per year to be housed in Riverview Hospital! But wait there's more....In the last 12 years there have been 549 reports of abuse and neglect perpetrated by DCF employees. We still have no answers about what happened to those employees or if they are still employed at DCF. We still have no answers as to what happens to these kids in custody, or what the outcomes of their treatment are, or if they have been served properly and effectively. There are so many, many, questions left unasked and unanswered.

A few legislators took to mild chastisement of the way all four of these agency heads have done business. Rep. Toni Harp and Rep. Toni Walker asked some very good questions, but the answers to their questions were less than impressive. Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Harris asked some pointed questions about linking the agency's directives to their "results". All I heard in response from the panel of 4 were platitudes and lots of talk about plans, and what they intend to do, and what they should consider, and what they should study.

Sen. Harris even tread into the territory of talking about educational neglect and homeschooling, which was met with denials by the DCF Commissioner about how homeschoolers are not considered to be neglecting their children educationally just because they aren't sending their children to a public school. That is a whole other subject, and most likely will be an issue to raise it's ugly little head again.

With regard to DCF, they keep wanting to rearrange the deck chairs on this sinking ship instead of making some fundamental common sense decisions. How about we do something that serves the children instead of serves directives or reporting requirements? How about we treat these kids as human beings instead of statistics and quarterly report contents? And give me a break, but hardly ever during the four hour meeting was the word parent or parental involvement even uttered!!

The Attorney General said DCF is too big and needs to be dismantled and that existing management should be overhauled - but failed to mention how he didn't do his job to investigate when incidents of abuse and drugging were given to him by members of Ablechild. In fact, all he did with their information was go after drug companies for fraud, making some national headlines in the process. Unfortunately, none of the Committee members took the Attorney General to task as to why he hadn't done his job to prosecute those who are abusing and drugging kids in CT facilities. It is after all his assistant attorneys general who advise and represent DCF in every juvenile court in CT every day! If he advised and directed his asst. attorneys general on how to properly advise DCF in these cases, many of these problems might not exist or at least have been alleviated in some fashion.

Robert Genuario had the audacity to sit there and defend the growth of expenditures of DCF which has blossomed from $607.5 million in FY 2004 to $884.5 million in FY 2009. The operating costs of Riverview Hospital alone is a staggering $48,986,343 dollars with $42 million of that going to personnel salaries and fringe benefits. This is with a decline in their patient census which is currently reported as 69.6, and heaven knows how much the kids treated at home or in community residential facilities costs the taxpayer. What did Genuario say in the end? Just that DCF is a "work in progress" - as if it is some grand experiment that we will never get to the bottom of. He wants more funding to consider and explore and study in order to make improvements. He even got into a tiff towards the end of the meeting, with Rep. Hamm of Middletown, about the expansion of the number of children in the CT Juvenile Training School, which her constituents are against. The Governor was going to shut the facility down, but the legislature hasn't done anything about it at all. Genuario said he and the Governor are frustrated with the inaction of the Legislature on these issues.

Jeanne Milstein got to sit there and complain about how there have been pockets of progress, but overall the progress has been made only because of the result of pressure or reaction to some horrible event like a baby's death. She decried the need for change and that there is a lack of management and leadership at DCF. She cited that she has gone as far as she could go with the resources that she has, to address the lack of meaningful and sustainable change in DCF, despite a 1 billion dollar budget and the apparent inability for DCF to do it's job. She asked for someone or something to take a look and determine whether DCF has the right people with the right skills in the right positions, to affect fundamental change in that agency. But she doesn't think DCF should be carved up, and she wants to see more strategic planning and more funding. Egads, more money and more about some "DOING"? Plans don't mean anything if they aren't implemented.

We also heard from DCF Commissioner Susan Hamilton. I think if I were to hear one more - "Yes, I agree, ... we intend to... we plan to... we want to....", I think I would just keel over. She said she wants to find what the best structure is and then have a plan to get them to what they want to achieve. One would think that this agency would know this by now!! We also heard about how complex the agency is and how they also do many things right, but the bottom line here and the reality is that kids are dying and there are hundreds of complaints about very bad practices and policies of this agency. No doubt the case workers have a tough job; no one disputes that, but the agency seems to have wrapped itself up in plans and reports and complying with mandates that they have forgotten the kids and what they need. Moreover, they have forgotten parents and their rights. They will talk of re-uniting families as they are working to take custody away from parents. They have treatment plans that are reviewed by administrators who hardly even meet with a child personally. It's that and so much more.

They didn't even touch on how much it costs to send kids out of state to other facilities, or what it costs to send DCF employees around the country to attend whatever meetings with staff at those facilities. The dirty secret that people don't know is that DCF uses out of state facilities as a bargaining chip; parents are told that if they don't comply with the wishes of what DCF is proposing as treatment for a child, that the child will be sent out of state. But I digress.

Clearly the system is broken. Unfortunately, this Investigative Hearing today was meant more for the cameras and to give the public an impression that something was being done in response to a murder, than it was to actually find solutions to fix what is wrong with DCF. Four hours of testimony and little results to show for it. But fear not, there will be other such meetings in November and one will even include public comment (that should be interesting).

For what the public spends on this agency it is clear that our money is not being well spent and that children are not thriving in DCF care. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that, and while the panel of four can talk about the things that are good about what DCF does do well, it is the many things that DCF does badly that we ought to be completely focused upon.

Funny - this is all AP had to say about this hearing.


Anonymous said...

It is sad when the Attorney General, posted to protect the public, supports a cold clinical agency in place of a parent. Psychiatry obviously has a very tight, profit-motivated hold upon the foster children sphere of society, prescribing endless multi-drug cocktails to these poor children. They label "disorders" galore, on these children, who, displaced from natural homes, are upset. Talk about kicking someone when they're down. Are they supposed to be happy? To label them "mentally ill" and place them on ANTI-PSYCHOTICS, just for being upset children, is criminal!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Judy Aron, for your mention of AbleChild and for drawing attention to such an important issue, where innocent children are at risk of psychiatric abuses.

doroth1 said...

It's so sad to see kids apart from parents.

Most children belongs with their parents. They are better off even with abusing parents then in the hands of DCF. I know personally, I leave above a couple that has leaving-in DCF children. These kids went without food for more then a day at a time and many times left without supervision. I forgot to mention no heat at times. I've never seen some of these kids outside or going to school. I'm moving out very soon, I love my apartment; my landlord is greedy and allows this. Sad all around. DCF doesn't need more money, needs a whole lot more common sense, putting in focus the fact that they're dealing with human beings. DCF should be described as "Human Trafficking of Connecticut".

Anonymous said...

As a pre-adoptive foster parent who faced false allegations of abuse trumped up by the department, I have a whole new take on things. I have no way to fight DCF or to regain custody or the right to adopt my foster son. I do not believe dismantling DCF is an appropriate answer. It will make politicians look good, as though they are producing major reform. But quite frankly, there are existing laws and policies written and created to protect families, children, and foster and adoptive children. If DCF cannot implement the existing laws with honesty and integrity, what will reorganizing accomplish? We need to boot some of our elected officials, and some apponted ones. We need people who will hold our government agencies accountable to the laws of this state. 20 years of court monitoring has not accomplished this because of conflict of interests in those doing the reporting.

Once upon a time, a black man could not take a seat on the city bus. Restructuring government did not change this. Public outcry did! While it would be wrong to violate the privacy of specific children, the public must know the depths of corruption, and demand change.

Anonymous said...

It is very sad to see the incorrect events happening in CT. DCF certainly doesn't seem accountable for the expenses they do and the violations on parent rights. There are hundreds of complaints on DCF case workers, by the parents who were treated very very badly. I think there should be some penalties on DCF for every
-> parents rights violation
-> falsified case report
-> delays in family re-union
-> signing the parents for unwanted treatments

There should be a cap on the expenses they do on every type of case will bring some accountability. With these changes and over the time the department will be more respectful

Anonymous said...

Having dealt with DCF for two years due to a messy house.

Tell me that isn't a waste taxpayers money!!!!!

They tried to say medical neglect -unfounded.

Educational neglect.- unfounded.

Children do not have to be in school till age seven.

Children never hurt or mistreated.

Tried to say sexual abuse. unfounded.

Kept trying to find a reason to keep these kids from mother.

But DCF thinks kids are better of with fathers parents. They both drink. one smokes pot. They fixed that by giving gaurdianship to just the one grandparent that didn't that didn't even raise her own kid.

DCF doesn't even care what the judges say. One Child extrodited from another state. Judge said that was unecessary. Was child returned - no. and back to court we go,

DCF should be held accountable for the lives ruinedand the injuries to the parents and the children state of minds. How can you put back something your tore to shreads.

State represenatives said at a former hearing why don't people sue DCF?

Great Idea!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

We are foster parents who tried to stay in touch with a teenager. We have been obstructed at every attempt. The teen had to rrequest an administrative hearing, that took 4 months. First, DCF said they thought our influence would make the teen not take his placement in a residential treatment school less seriously if he could speak with us and think he had a place to go, people who cared for him. Then after 4 months, we are called to an administrative hearing, kept in the hall way and told we will be called in. After a half hour, the lawyer comes out and says the "meeting" is over. He said DCF agreed to allow the teen to have contact with us but not until the therapist at the school thinks it is in the best interest of the teen. Then he says, that the teen no longer wants to talk to us just yet, he'll call us when he is ready. The final thought would be about waiting 4 months for an administrative hearing that DCF can then just say that because they agreed to a decision with the lawyer, it wasn't a hearing, there will be no transcript, they didn't have to call us in the talk with us and they don't have to issue a decision which is why the lawyer just came out and told us "they now agree". Yippee. When we asked about the teen saying he is "now ready to talk to us yet" but "he thanks us for being there as a resource for him and he'll call us when he is ready for us to adopt him" Yikes, what a mess and my tax dollars paid for all these DCF staff and lawyer to come up with this "agreement" made without us. Whichby the way is a non-agreement made without a hearing or a written decision by a hearing officer who was called to the meeting. If this is where government is going, we are all in deep trouble. Teen still hasn't been able to talk to us for 7 months!

cathy simpson said...

I cannot believe how bad the D.C.F screws up when making decisions when it comes to protecting our children.I have been raising my granddaughter for 11 years because her mother and father didn't want her. Now after 11 years her father decides he wants custody of her. He never wanted to pay child support every time I went to get child suppor from him he quit his job.So from advise from a lawyer I went and state and collected state for her 333.00 a month.Then the state made him get a job and pay back allthe state money and now thwy attached his wages and he is paying me 220.00 a month. I went to state to get more child support but was told he wasn't making enough money to pay more child support.Well then how can he afford to support her, he always has gotten help from the state because he continues to have children. He has 9 children by 6 different women and lives in a low income housing projects that is so bad they have cop patroling the complex because of the crime and drugs going on over there. I have lived in my house in a beauiful neighbor hood with no cops partroling it for 22 years.and have been with the same man for over 36 years and my granddaughter has stayed in the same school district from k-5 then 6-8 now shes 14 going into high school and D.C.F is concidering allowing her to go live with him in the projects. If he cannot pay more than 20.00 a month for support how can he afford to fully support her. It costs me alot more than that to support her.The only reason he wants her is for more food stamps and he will get his rent lowered even more now.also all the other help he gets from the state. but the D.C.F is looking at it like he a good dad who is trying. If he was truly trying he wouldn't keep having children he would try to do better for the ones he already has.He had 5 more kids after the one I am raising.What is wrong with the D.C.F I alway thought their job was to take a child from a bad situation and but them in a better one but in this case they are taking a child from a good situation and putting her in a bad one.He don't have the means to support her. So the D.C.F is thinks its okay to raise kids in provity.

Melanie Gibson said...

I am very familiar with the corruption by DCF. My son was taken by DCF shortly after he was born. They have continued to keep him from me for almost 2 years based on false allegations and reports by a DCF worker, even though they have nothing to back this up. They tried to insist that I attend services to address domestic violence, which I can not do because there is no domestic violence issue.They then claimed that I was being noncompliant due to not addressing an issue that can not be addressed because it does not exist. Me and my son's father are no longer together. They recently and deceitfully convinced my son's father that if he gave up his rights they would work toward reunifying me with my son and he would come home. My son's father consented and DCF has a trial scheduled to now attempt to terminate MY rights. DCF is not only very dishonest with parents, but also stand in court and lie directly to the judge. I have learned that they will tell anyone anything in am attempt to reach a desired end result, regardless of who they harm in the process. My son has spent the first 2 years of his life in a foster home. I am appalled by the incompetence and corruption by DCF that I have become aware of over the past 2 years. And I am further appalled that they continue to get away with it.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I fostered a CT DCF sibling group of three from 10/08 to 11/09 (ages 1-3). We are a licensed, preadoptive home. Our intent was to adopt the children. The biological parents consented to termination of their rights in the summer. We hadn't yet submitted all of our final paperwork to legally adopt them as of 10/09. I made the mistake of admitting I was feeling overwhelmed and tired due to the demanding role parenting these young children required. I thought DCF would help us - in fact, at an Administrative Case Review Meeting it was agreed we would be granted a three month extension of time to reduce my work hours (I work evenings and weekends) and see if conditions improved. They revoked the agreement soon after and notified us that they selected a new family who wanted to adopt them. The children were removed from our home within two weeks. We are reeling from this decision and have been told there is nothing we can do.

Can anything be done or does anyone have a similar experience they are willing to share?

Anonymous said...

RE: Pre adoptive sibling group. So you and you husband went through the steps to be aproved. They did not do a bridging with your family and the new family? I don't understand how DCF would place them with your family so long. Did more the one dcf staff member interview you?

Do you have any advice for future prospective adoptive parents?

CFD said...

I have just started a blog entitled the Connecticut Broken Hearts Gallery. It is an attempt to raise awareness for foster, pre-adoptive and adoptive families who have been maltreated by DCF. Go to Please visit the blog and become a follower. If you have a story to share please contact me at

Alone we have no recourse; together our voices will be heard.

Anonymous said...

DCF has been in my life for 5 years. They opened my case without investigating the allegations, gave me incompetent counsel, and last month forced me out the state under the threat of taking my children! They even transferred my case. Now I'm in GA in the same situation, trying to fight my way back to CT. DCF violated my rights at every turn and never explained my rights. I didn't even know I had rights! I'm sharing my story so this won't happen to anyone else.

DCF is cancer said...

We have a seven year old autisic son he also has been recently diagnoised with mental retardation and anxiety problems. He has alot of disturbing behavoirs which include self injurious behaviors. We have three children and none of them have ever experienced any type of abuse or neglect. All three are very happy and well loved and taking care of. A little spoiled even.
The school we enrolled him has a terrible program which they call an autism program. It is a misrible excuse for a program. We have been fighting the school for two years to do right by him or send him to an approperiate program. By us fighting with them for what's right now they relentlessly retaliate against us by using DCF as a tool to get my sonv and us out of their district.
As you all know DCF gets a story from a caller and they adopt that story and they do everything they want to make it work. They lie, fabricate info, threaten and dismiss any factual info that doesn't fit their story. They will only except info that supports their BS story. They refuse to even except the reports and advise from the behaviorlist and people DCF hired to work with us. Now they are planning to file neglect. They refuse to except professional testimony that will prove every mark my son has ever had has been self inflicted. DCf admits they have nothing and have no idea what's going in but they are filing anyways.

We need to stand together and push a law suit so hard that it completely bankrupts DCF and end this madness. My biggest fear is others are going to go through this that don't deserve it and me not doing anything about it.
Who wants to and fight with me?