The Department of Children and Families was created by the General Assembly as the Department of Children and Youth Services in May, 1969.
The new Department was given authority to administer two juvenile correctional facilities: Long Lane School in Middletown (for girls); and the Meriden School for Boys.
In 1974, the legislature transferred child welfare services to the Department beginning a new era of protecting young people from abuse, neglect and abandonment. A year later, legislation added children’s mental health services and a unified school district for children in the Department’s care and custody.
In 1987, the Department instituted a regional management model, strengthening community-based services through grants and child-centered social work practice. Six regions (now five) began managing grants and services, along with a new mandate in 1988 - substance abuse services for children and youth. The Department’s primary prevention programs also saw significant development during this period, effecting a continuum of care for children and families.
Despite this evolution, the Department’s resources were outmatched by the scope of child maltreatment in Connecticut. A class-action lawsuit resulted in the 1991 signing of the Juan F. vs. O’Neill Consent Decree - a legal blueprint for increasing funding, staffing and services standards. Personnel continue to implement Consent Decree provisions in virtually all areas of service and administration, in cooperation with a federal court monitor.
The name, Department of Children and Families, established by legislation on July 1, 1993, reflects the Department’s still-evolving mission of providing child-centered, family focused, community-based programs and services throughout Connecticut.