Putting children’s needs first means using the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and the Walter G. Cady School as part of the toolbox. It appears that some, including those in positions of advocacy and legislation, would carelessly ignore the programs that are in place while trying to create a new and unfunded system.
Recent reports concerning the Department of Children and Families, along with Commissioner Joette Katz’s long history of failure, misplaced priorities and lack of transparency and accountability, leave me with no confidence in her willingness or ability to openly and seriously confront critical issues within her agency. That’s why I felt compelled to call for her resignation.
A two-part series in the Connecticut Mirror this week asked the question of whether youth who break the law in Connecticut receive a second chance. It focused on the relatively small share of youth in the juvenile justice system who are placed in secure settings rather than the vast majority who receive services at home and in the community. What the article left out is that youths who are committed by Juvenile Court judges to the Department of Children and Families and placed at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School have received many second chances before that point.
Many young adults in Connecticut foster care decline to continue receiving services from a system they view as oppressive because they are desperate for freedom and family. The Department of Children and Families has better options than leaving them potentially homeless and unprepared for adult life.
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families has adopted a “differential response system” that allows its caseworkers more flexibility in reacting to various kinds of child abuse and neglect, depending on the risk to the family. Families and staff say this new kind of intervention is more effective, satisfying and respectful.