Connecticut Governor Applauds Federal Court Ruling

Governor Lamont Applauds Federal Court Ruling Ending Juan F. Consent Decree

Connecticut Department of Children and Families No Longer Under Federal Supervision

HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont is applauding a federal court ruling bringing an end to the Juan F. Consent Decree and federal court oversight of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Earlier today, a hearing was held in Bridgeport at which the Honorable Judge Stefan R. Underhill of the United State District Court for the District of Connecticut ruled that DCF has met and sustained all outcome measures set forth in the lawsuit.  The federal case is now closed.

“This is a great day for Connecticut, and I could not be prouder of the staff at the Department of Children and Families,” Governor Lamont said.  “Each and every day they support families and partner with communities to ensure the safety and well-being of children.  Moving forward, we expect to continue the high standards of best case practice our children and families deserve.”

The Juan F. Consent lawsuit was originally filed in 1989, indicating Connecticut’s child welfare system was not meeting the needs of children subject to allegations of abuse and neglect including those placed into the department’s care and custody.

The court ruling comes after last week’s joint motion was filed by the plaintiffs and defendants in the case indicating the department is “now well-positioned to move forward without judicial oversight.”

“Today’s decision marks the end of three decades of court oversight and is the result of documented and significant improvement at DCF,” Attorney General William Tong said.  “This moment was possible because of the dedication and professionalism of Commissioner Dorantes and the entire DCF staff who have committed to the sustained reforms necessary to ensure the protection of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children.”

“This decision represents more than 30 years of both agency and systems transformations,” DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes said.  “As a career social worker, my focus in leading the Agency was not on compliance but quality and consistency throughout our case practice.  Transparency, well-defined internal quality assurance and improvement structures, and partnerships across public and private agencies will continue to be embedded in all aspects of our work in order to sustain this progress and meet the challenges children, families and communities will face today and in the future.”

Key components of the department’s infrastructure highlighted in court filings include:

  • Maintaining caseload limits across the DCF workforce
  • Ensuring DCF is a family-centered practice
  • Minimizing the use of institutional settings while focusing on clinical treatment needs of young people in group care
  • Providing community-based mental health and other supportive services
  • Embedding a racial justice focus across the agency
  • Supporting older youth
  • Building and supporting community and agency partnerships and supporting the contracted services array
  • Promoting continuous quality improvement

The department has also been recognized as a leader across the country in the practice areas of racial justice, eliminating the need for congregate care placements and children residing with kin.

“We remain grateful for the tireless efforts of our department’s workforce, the support of the Governor’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General, members of the Connecticut legislature, the Office of Policy and Management, and our community partners for making this day possible,” Commissioner Dorantes stated.