Child advocate will investigate deaths of nine children involved with DCF

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Office of the Child Advocate is investigating the deaths this year of nine children whose families have had recent contact with the Department of Children and Families.

Sarah Healy Eagan, the state child advocate, released a statement on the child fatalities Tuesday. Since January, 11 children whose families have been involved with DCF have died. Eagan’s office will review nine of those cases, while preliminary reviews suggest two others were attributable to natural causes.

Eagan, who would not discuss the specifics of the cases under review, said the children in question were strikingly young and died from a handful of causes.

“These children, mostly infants and toddlers, died from what appear to be a variety of causes, including a car accident, asphyxiation, possible unsafe sleeping conditions, and child abuse,” the statement said. “At least two of the infants were allegedly killed by a caregiver.”

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.


6 responses to “Child advocate will investigate deaths of nine children involved with DCF”

  1. Suzanne

    “However, in a roughly three-year period between January 2001 and February 2014, the department reported the deaths of 50 children in families involved with the agency at the time of their death. The number, which excludes deaths based on medical conditions, breaks down to an average of between 16 and 17 deaths per year.”

    Is this o.k. with everybody? This continuing model of keeping children in the home in spite of the risks that lead to death? Why would a family be involved with DCF in the first place if the family was not in crisis? Why is it o.k. for us all to be “patient” while this “risk model” for DCF operations is the continued work place mission that actually causes the death of our children?

    I don’t get it. Once again, a process over people, in this case the most vulnerable. Just recently, it was the lack of inspections and protection of mentally and physically disabled people in this State with hundreds of reviews in arrears that would assess these peoples’ condition and safety.

    What kind of state our we? Sixteen to seventeen deaths per year excluding those who have died due to medical issues? Why is this ok? Why is it ok to do business as usual because it works for the bureaucrats but clearly is not working for the children? Why is risk assessment so deficient by the DCF that they cannot recognize and remove a child in danger before they die?

  2. Casey Smith


    And then there is the other end of the pendulum where children have been removed from the home by DFC for vague reasons or because someone called and reported something because the caller didn’t like how a parent handled a situation.
    The other thing that the statistics don’t mention is if any of the deaths were accidental ( i.e. car accidents, drownings, falls) that truly were unpreventable. I would suspect that the differential of 8 deaths between the 17 non-medical and the 9 investigative cases would be attributed to that, but the story doesn’t say that.

  3. Suzanne

    Hi Casey, The pendulum swing, then, is between unnecessary and drastic when I think it needs to be somewhere in the middle. Children get the protection and care they need in deficient circumstances while, at the same time, real evaluation is done to ascertain whether the situation really merits the child’s removal from the home. In any event, the standards being kept are just not good enough or the article completely misrepresented the almost near complacency of the spokesperson involved. That is, it appeared to me that the claim that the process just needs a bit more time before changing does not seem good enough if deaths are occurring with the current method in place. I looked up the model in other areas to see how keeping the child in the home was preferred even if the family in crisis showed deleterious neglect: this model is being reevaluated by states and municipalities because of a lack of effective care and, yes, deaths that are taking place with children while under state evaluation and protection. It is very sad. I just wish CT wasn’t one of the States showing such ineffective controls: one child dead is bad enough but, on average, 16 a year?

  4. One and Done.

    By their own admission, DCF costs over $50,000 per year per family the provide services to.
    $807 million / 16,000
    We would be better off giving the money directly to families and watch most of their troubles go away.
    State government at its finest. It’s all about the pensions and the families be damned.
    One and Done.

  5. Casey Smith

    @ Suzanne,
    I can’t argue with the fact that the model of keeping the children in families in crisis is probably in serious need of re-evaluation. I personally knew a 5 year old that had been in with a foster family for years and the family wanted to adopt him. However, that particular social worker was adamant that the boy needed to go back to his birth mother and her boyfriend who resided in NY. They found his body at the bottom of an air shaft about two months later.
    On the other end of the spectrum, we had friends who were adopting an interracial child and all of a sudden DCF was going to remove both the birth child and the potential adoptee from the home because of an accident involving another child at a birthday party they were attending. The other child was jumping down the wooden porch steps and the bottom one broke. The child wasn’t hurt badly, but did require stitches. The social worker claimed that our friends “should have known” the step would break even though it wasn’t their house or child that was injured. Fortunately, the lawyer pointed this out to everyone and the adoption went through. It became clear the social worker involved was against interacial adoptions and was looking for an excuse to stop the adoption.
    So, as you can see, there is a great deal of subjectivity on the part of the social worker that is involved.

  6. Suzanne

    Hi Casey, I am sorry for both of the cases you mention. Because it is not a bunch of kids, is it? It is really a personal relationship with individual children. When I lived in LA, the DCF system was in terrible crisis. I personally knew two social workers, each assigned around 100 cases. This is impossible to manage. There was also the huge movement to keep African American children in African American homes. This influenced social workers’ judgement, like with your friend you described. This kind of “cowboy” evaluation has no place, to my mind, when considering the welfare of a child. This is why social workers have supervisors BUT the supervision in the system in LA, that is the checks and balances part, was subsumed by the dire needs to get children into the system in the first place. Therefore, social workers could impose their own value system. I am sorry there is obviously the overwhelmed system here in CT that does not allow for reasonable and effective evaluations to protect children and help them to grow up safely and with life’s best attributes. LA’s system eventually improved but it still felt a little like New Jersey, notorious for its oversights that have left many children malnourished, abused and dead. It breaks my heart to think that even one child would follow suit in this state.

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