For information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent call 1-888-KID-HERO or e-mail: KidHero@cafafct.orgAbout Adoption
A New Beginning for Us All by Commissioner Joette Katz
Adoption Assistance Program
Adoption Community Network
Adoption Subsidy Review Board
Adult Adoption Search
Adults who were once committed to DCF
Behavioral Health Services (BHP) for DCF Children in Foster Care
CAFAF (Connecticut Alliance of Foster & Adoptive Families)
Care 4 Kids (Daycare)
College Assistance / Post-Secondary Education Assistance
Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families (CAFAF)
CT Foster/Adopt Manual
Chapter 1: DCF Licensed Homes & Regional Office Staff
Chapter 2: Child Protection, Children Placed in Foster Care
Chapter 3: Adoption
Chapter 4: Education
Chapter 5: Legal
Chapter 6: Safety
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Adoption & Foster Care
Connecticut Adoption Search
Information Request Form
Instructions for Financial Aid Applications (For post-secondary Education and Interstate Compact)
Interstate Compacts Overview
Give the Gift of Adoption!
Heart Gallery of America
Legal Risk Adoptions
Open House Calendar
Permanency Placement Services Program
Private Provider Foster Care Contacts
Permanency Resource Exchange
Post Licensing Training
Real Life-Real Stories (Sobie, Wynn Family, Current Family)
Request information about DCF Foster Care/Adoption Programs
Social Workers: Fostering Love
Support Groups / Support for Adoptive Families
The Road to Fostering/Adoption (English)
The Road to Fostering/Adoption (Español)
Trainings (Online, For Foster and Adoptive Parents)
Adoptive families play a critical part in the life of a child by providing a permanent, safe and loving home. Just like the children they adopt, adoptive parents come from a variety of backgrounds. You can become a foster or adoptive parent and truly change a child’s life forever. The children waiting in state care vary from age newborn to 17, with the majority of them being between the ages of 5 and 17. Many have physical, emotional and/or intellectual disabilities. Although many have challenges, they all have wonderful strengths also. Children in state care are currently living in temporary foster homes, group homes or residential settings. Some have had multiple placements. Some wait with siblings, and some wait alone. They remain hopeful that someone will come forward soon to provide them with the loving family that all children deserve.
Once you are licensed, you may choose the age, gender, ethnicity and "needs level" of the children you care for. Support is provided to you before and after the child is placed in your home.
The Department of Children and Families has taken great strides over the last several years to improve how we serve vulnerable children and families in Connecticut. But, we have not done so alone. No one has been more instrumental in that progress than our foster parents.
Beyond question, foster parents have complex roles caring for children with often complicated lives. What is far less complex is what motivates them to become foster parents. They say it is simple: they love kids, and the children need them.
Parents who adopt children and provide foster care say it's the most fulfilling and important thing they've ever done. As a foster or adoptive parent, you'll have the chance to make a REAL difference -- to do something that will have lasting importance.
Children waiting to be adopted and children living in temporary foster care need adults in their lives to let them know they matter. They need parents to be positive role models and teach them to ride a bike, or pick out a prom dress, or talk about what happened in school each day. They need adults who care.
At the Department of Children and Families, we hope you'll consider stepping forward. If you do, we'll be by your side to provide training, financial assistance, and social workers to support you.
Adoption Assistance Program
University of Connecticut-Health Center
270 Farmington Avenue
The Exchange, Suite 262
Farmington, CT 06032-6210
Toll free in CT: 877-679-1961
Permanency Resource Exchange
The Adoption Resource Exchange is located at 505 Hudson Street, Hartford, CT 06106 and is charged with maintaining a registry of all children legally free for adoption in Connecticut per CGS 17a-43. Additional work done by Adoption Resource Exchange Staff include:
- Maintaining a registry of families approved for adoption.
- Referring appropriate home studies (matching a family’s request for a child to the children available) to area offices that are requesting adoptive and “legal risk” families for children who are free for adoption or who need a permanent home while the legal work is completed.
- Conducting specialized recruitment efforts on behalf of Connecticut’s children who are waiting to be adopted that include the annual Heart Gallery, listings on the national exchange, participation in ADOPT US KIDS and aggressive outreach efforts to other states-participating in inter-jurisdictional adoption.
- Providing technical assistance to area offices and participating in permanency planning teams.
- Responding on behalf of the Commissioner to correspondence from agencies and individuals interested in Connecticut’s adoption laws and the Department’s adoption program.
- Maintaining all closed adoption records.
- Processing subsidized adoption finalizations for the Commissioner’s signature.
- Providing information to adult adoptees - see “Adult Adoption Search” on this website for more information.
- Maintaining the “Adoption Reunion Registry” and the “Medical Information Registry” for adopted children.
- Answering questions from the general public regarding Connecticut’s adoption laws and processes.
- Manage the College Assistance Program.
- Manage The Permanency Placement Services Program contracts.
Legal Risk Adoptions
All children are entitled to a permanent nurturing family which meets their physical, medical, emotional, and educational needs. In most situations this will be a child’s family of origin and the Department of Children and Families will make every effort to support the biological family’s desire to raise their children. However, if it becomes necessary to place a child outside of the family home, then reasonable efforts must be made to reunify the child with his/her family or with relatives as soon as possible.considered as soon as it is determined that Termination of Parental Rights will be filed in the Probate Court or in the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters.
If reunification with the family is not in the child’s best interest, it is crucial that a timely plan for adoption be considered. To avoid multiple placements, a decision to place a child in a "legal risk home" should be
A “legal risk home” is defined as one which is licensed for adoption, but provides foster care for a child who is not legally free, i.e., parental rights have not yet been terminated by the Probate Court or the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters. A “legal risk family” is expected to make a commitment to the child and to work collaboratively with DCF and the child’s biological parents to accomplish the best possible plan for the child whether that is return to the birth family or the finalization of an adoption with the “legal risk family.”
In Connecticut, there are two different courts that can terminate parental rights: the Probate Court and the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters. When a child comes into the care of DCF and the parent(s) have clearly stated that they want to relinquish their legal rights to the child and the child is not yet committed to the Department, DCF will file a petition in the Probate Court. When the Probate Court grants the petition, it will name the Department as statutory parent, thereby giving the Department the authority to place the child in adoption.
If the parents are not willing to consent to have their parental rights terminated, then the Department must file petitions in the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters seeking the termination of the parent(s) right to the child. DCF must prove that there are sufficient grounds to terminate the rights of the parents and must also prove that this result is in the child’s best interests. The Court requires a high standard of proof; the Court is required to find that the Department has proven its case by the measure of “clear and convincing evidence.” If the Court grants the termination petition, the law allows the parents to appeal the decision to the State Appellate Court. If an appeal is taken, then the parental rights are not considered terminated until the Appellate Court has ruled on the matter. This consideration by the Appellate Court may take a year or more.
Thus, the “legal risk family” takes a “legal risk” from the time of placement until (if the termination is appealed by the biological parent), a final decision is rendered by the Appellate Court that the child may not be eligible for adoption. The family, during this entire time, must act as a foster family to the child and is subject to the Department’s regulations and policies applicable to foster homes. This includes working closely with the Department and the biological family to facilitate visitation between the child and his/her family and facilitating the child’s return to the biological family if this is deemed to be in the child’s best interest.
The intent of the Department of Children and Families “legal risk” program is that the child in question will be legally freed for adoption and that the placement will be permanent - however this cannot be guaranteed to the prospective adoptive parents. Children clearly need families that will provide long-term, loving, and stable homes for them regardless of their legal status. However, becoming a “legal risk family” is a decision that a family should think about and carefully consider. It can be very hard and challenging, as well as ultimately very rewarding. We recommend that you talk with your social worker and with other families that have taken part in the “legal risk program.”
We would like to increase the number of “legal risk families” that we have available for our children but the decision must rest with you after you review the program and decide if you are willing to “take a risk for a child…!!”
Do you have questions about legal risk adoptions in Connecticut? Please give us a call at 860-550-6582 or e-mail us at Annemarie.Stonoha@ct.gov. We would be happy to talk further with you.
- DCF-338 (Medical Information on Genetic Parents)
- DCF-3060 (Adult Adoptee Request for Information)
- DCF-3061 (Contact Preference and Reunion Registry Form for Genetic Parents)
- DCF-3062 (Request for Adoption Search)
- How to Request a Non-Certified Copy of Your Original Birth Certificate of an Adopted Person
Adult Adoption Search - Connecticut Search LawConnecticut Search Law provides birth parents, birth relatives, adult adoptees, adults formerly in foster care, and adoptive parents with access to certain information contained in adoption files. The laws surrounding adoption files are very specific and the information below is a summary of the law:
According to Connecticut Search Law (Connecticut General Statutes, §§ 45a-743 through 45a-757) adult adoptees, adults formerly in foster care for whom the state of Connecticut had been appointed the statutory parent, and adoptive parents have access to certain information contained in adoption files, which is most often referred to as non-identifying and medical information.
Birth parents have the ability to update information regarding their medical history that is contained in their child’s adoption file.
Additionally, adult adoptees, adults formerly in foster care, birth parents and birth relatives have the ability to conduct a search for their birth family members who are 18 and older through the agency that completed their adoption or the termination of their parental rights.
If the adoption occurred in Connecticut or if the parental rights were terminated in Connecticut:
- Adult Adoptees (18 yrs and older)
- An Adult for Whom the State of Connecticut was the Statutory Parent
- Adoptive Parent of a Minor Child (Under 18)
Who can conduct a search for family members?
If the adoption occurred in Connecticut or if the parental rights were terminated in Connecticut:
- Adult Adoptees (18 years old and older)
- An Adult for Whom the State of Connecticut was the Statutory Parent
- Birth Parent (of adult adoptee)
- Non-adopted Adult Birth Siblings (with birth parent’s consent)
- Birth Relatives (with birth parent’s consent)
What information is available?
- Non-identifying and medical information (i.e., information associated with the family background of the birth parents including social, religious, ethnic, educational, and employment history, and the circumstances of your birth and adoption)
- Identifying information (with consent of person being sought)
How does one access the information?
- The agency that did the adoption would research their files to compile information for the requestor.
What if someone doesn’t know which agency did the adoption?
- The Department of Children and Families, Office of Foster Care and Adoption Services, has a master database that lists all adoptions, both public and private, which have occurred in Connecticut since 1944. Information can be obtained by calling 860-550-6582, writing DCF Search Unit, 505 Hudson Street, Hartford, CT 06106 or e-mailing the Search Unit at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families at Annemarie.Stonoha@ct.gov
- If the adoption was completed prior to 1944, the adoptee can contact directly the Probate Court that was involved in the adoption finalization.
What procedures are involved?
- The person wishing to receive information or conduct a search must make their request in writing to the agency that completed their adoption and have their signature notarized as proof of their identity.
- The agency will initially provide non-identifying information.
- If the individual wishes to search, then a personal interview is required. The agency will then attempt to locate the person being sought and gain that person’s permission before any identifying information can be released to the requestor.
- If consent is provided, the agency will assist in arranging contact in a way that is acceptable to both parties.
- If the family member being contacted does not provide consent, then the agency that completed the adoption will not be able to disclose any information about the person being sought. If this occurs, the requestor would have the ability to complete a Reunion Registry form so that their contact information may be provided if the family member changes their mind about contact in the future.
Are there any costs involved?
- If the adoption was through the State of Connecticut (a public agency), there are no costs associated with searching.
- Private adoption agencies have a fee.
What if the individual searching currently lives in another state, but was adopted in Connecticut?
- The person searching can receive the background information through the mail by sending the agency a notarized letter confirming their identity.
- If they wish to search, they will have to arrange for a personal interview to be done by a licensed clinical social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist, or an adoption agency in the state in which they reside.
- Each adoption agency also maintains a Reunion Registry that allows adult adoptees, birth parents, and birth relatives to indicate their desire for contact with their family members.
- If both the adoptee and the relative have registered for contact, then contact will be initiated by the agency of adoption. The above parties can also update medical histories to be enclosed in the record.
- It is the responsibility of the person registered to update their contact information including changes to their names, addresses or phone numbers.
- To have your name added to the Reunion Registry, or to update a Reunion Registry Form, call the agency involved with the adoption to request a form that must be fully completed and notarized.
Adults who were once committed to the care of the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families
For individuals who had been committed to the care of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families but not adopted, a request can be made to see copies of their file as permitted by Connecticut Statute 17a-28(1)(A), 17a-28 (5), and 17a-28 6(A) and 6(B). This applies to adults (age 18 or older) who were not adopted. If the Closed Records Division can access the file, it will be copied and sent to the individual in question, pending receipt of a notarized letter confirming their identity.
For any additional information, call the Office of Foster Care and Adoption Services at 860-550-6582, or email: Annemarie.Stonoha@ct.gov , or write:
Anne Marie Stonoha
Office of Foster and Adoption Services
CT-Department of Children and Families
505 Hudson Street
Hartford, CT 06106
The following services are available to families who have adopted children through DCF:
- Adoption Subsidy Review Board
- Application Process
- College Assistance/Post Secondary Education Assistance
- Financial and Medical Subsidies
- Instructions for Financial Aid Applications (For post-secondary Education and Interstate Compact)
- Ongoing Requirements
- Voluntary Services
Financial and Medical Subsidies
Children who have been adopted from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) foster care system and/or a private Connecticut licensed child-placing agency who have special needs are eligible for the subsidized adoption program. This program provides a financial subsidy and/or a medical subsidy to the family to provide for the child’s needs. Please see the “Subsidized Adoption” section of this website for further details about this program.
College Assistance/Post Secondary Education Assistance
The Department will provide financial assistance to youth who were adopted through the Department’s foster care program by the youth’s eighteenth (18th) birthday and who plan to attend an accredited college, university, or institution of higher learning upon completion of their high school education. The adoption must have taken place after December 31, 2004.
The covered post-secondary education expenses include tuition, fees, and room and board equivalent to the costs at the University of Connecticut. Costs of off-campus housing cannot exceed the cost of room and board at UConn and will require documentation. Books can also be covered as long as the total expense is not more than the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at UConn. Summer classes also can be covered as long as the total cost of one full school year for the student does not exceed the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at UConn. Expenditures will be paid only after calculating any educational grants and scholarship awards granted to the prospective student.
Youth interested in the program must be accepted to their chosen educational institution prior to their 21st birthday and may remain eligible for financial assistance until the end of the school year in which he/she turns 23 years of age.
- Apply/compete for appropriate grants and scholarships to offset costs and provide documentation of such efforts.
- Contact Paul.Gressly@ct.gov once the acceptance letter has been received, but no later than May 15th of the year in which the application is requested.
- Complete the DCF 2097-Application for Financial Assistance for Post Secondary Education and send in the necessary information/forms required. You can fill it out online or request that DCF mail you an application. Send or e-mail the application by June 30th of the year in which the application is requested. A new DCF-2097 must be completed each year that the applicant is requesting financial assistance for post-secondary education.
Once all the required documentation is received, the Statement of Financial Assistance for Post Secondary Education: DCF-2098A is sent to an applicant and the Confirmation of Financial Assistance is sent to the educational institution. Tuition will be paid on a semester by semester basis.
- Complete sections 1 and 11, “Youth and School Information.” Then in section 111, you will need to write in the complete costs related to the tuition, school fees and the cost for on-campus room and board or projected costs for off-campus room and board. You may need to ask the Bursar or Business Office for a formal breakdown of the costs and attach the documentation to the form.
- Regarding grants and scholarships, please list the amount of money that you will receive in grants and scholarships. You will need to document the grants information by obtaining a financial breakdown from the school’s “Financial Aid Office.” Please also attach a copy of all scholarship award letters.
- Please sign and date the form. Your parent (if available) should also sign and date the form.
- In addition, you will need to send:
- Copy of your acceptance letter to the school
- Copy of your Financial Aid application
- Copy of your high school transcript
- APPLICATION FORM: DCF-2097
Questions? Contact: Deanna.McIntosh@ct.gov
- Shall be accepted in a full time accredited or licensed program.
- Shall maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 each year.
- Shall contribute five hundred dollars ($500.00) to educational costs each year.
- Shall provide to the Department at the end of each semester or trimester or quarter, as appropriate, documentation of
- grades/report cards
- Shall provide documentation of the application for financial assistance-annually.
Questions? Contact: Paul.Gressly@ct.gov
Adoption Subsidy Review Board
Any adoption subsidy decision by the Department may be appealed by the adoptive parents or a licensed child-placing agency to the Adoption Subsidy Review Board (ASRB) per CGS 17a-117(b). The three-person board consists of the Commissioner of DCF or her designee, a private licensed child placing agency employee, and an adoptive parent appointed by the Governor. If an appeal is taken, a hearing must be held before the ASRB at least 30 days prior to the termination or reduction of the subsidy, and the subsidy shall continue without modification until the final decision of the Board.
Voluntary ServicesDCF may provide, on a voluntary basis (at the request of the family) casework, community referrals, and treatment services for children who are not committed to the Department and who do not require protective service intervention, but may require any of the services offered, administered by, under contract with, or otherwise available to the Department due to emotional or behavioral difficulties.
Adoptive families are eligible for DCF’s Voluntary Services and they can initiate an application by calling DCF’s Hotline: 1-800-842-2288. The Hotline will forward the person’s contact information to the local area office for follow up. The local Voluntary Services social worker will send information about the program to the family via certified mail. Families are expected to:
- Complete a Voluntary Services Program Application for Services (DCF-2177)
- Provide the Department with:
- written reports from service providers
a current psychiatric or psychological evaluation, if one exists, which addresses the child/youth’s treatment needs.
Sign all release of information forms.
Make all household members available to meet with a social worker during home visits conducted for assessment purposes.
Provide required financial information.
Families applying for the Voluntary Services program have sixty (60) days from requesting an application to submit the completed application and all the required materials.
A Voluntary Services case will be opened for assessment services upon receipt of the request at the area office. Once the application and a comprehensive eligibility assessment are completed, the area office will inform the family either:
- The application is approved or
- The application is refused based on the availability of resources or the inability of the child/youth to meet eligibility requirements.
If a child/youth is deemed ineligible for voluntary services, the family and/or youth have the right to an Administrative Hearing.
Each licensed core foster family shall attend six modules of training per year.
Post-Licensing Trainings offered:
The initial licensing process that all families complete is just the first step in a career of a Foster, Adoptive, Fictive Kin, Relative or Independent licensed family. All licenses are issued for only two year period and are renewed annually.
Every two years from initial licensing date, every family is re-licensed and re-assessed by the FASU unit to assure that the family continues to meet the licensing standards and regulatory requirements set forth by the State of CT. Re-approved families will have to meet PRIDE quality guidelines and have met post licensing training requirements.
Every two years each family makes a decision as to whether continue to be available to care for our children. You will be sent a re-licensing application which needs to be completed and returned to your support SW. The current license remains in effect until the re-licensing process is completed ONLY if the re-licensing application is submitted prior to the expiration date on your current license.
The FASU unit will review your foster care record and talk with Social Workers who have had children placed in your home. Once these steps are completed the re-licensing SW will contact you to schedule a HV.
During the HV the SW will discuss and changes in your home since last license was issued, such as but not limited to new HHM, changes in employment or income, child care arrangements, legal or health issues. The SW will also tour your home and view sleeping areas and to assure that the home continues to meet licensing standards and to identify any areas of health or safety concerns and suggest corrective measures that need to take place. The SW will also discuss with you any questions or concerns that you may have.
When the re-licensing process is completed a new license will be issued if your home continues to meet regulatory requirements. If your home was not in compliance with one or more requirements, a provisional licensed is issued to allow time to attain compliance. You will be informed in writing about what is needed to come into compliance and receive a regular license. A provisional license can be issued for up to 60 days and can only be extended upon approval of the Director of Foster Care.
Contact Deanna McIntosh at 860-550-6608 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Providing Permanency For Special Needs Children In Connecticut
The subsidized adoption program was created to facilitate the adoption of children both in DCF care and in the care of private Connecticut licensed child-placing agencies who have special needs. Subsidized guardianship achieves permanency for children who might otherwise remain in foster care. The majority of children placed by DCF for adoption receive some kind of adoption subsidy benefit (CT Gen. Stat. 17a-117, DCF Policy 48-18-18).
Who Is Eligible For the Subsidized Adoption Program?
A special needs child is eligible for the Subsidized Adoption program when:
- The adopting family meets the guidelines for any other adopting family; and
- The child meets the “special needs child” definition; and
- The child has established significant emotional ties with prospective parents while in their care as a foster child; or
- The child cannot be placed in adoption through existing resources after all reasonable efforts have been made consistent with the best interests of the child.
A “special needs” child is defined as a child who is difficult to place in an adoptive home because of one or more of the following conditions:
- Physical or mental disability.
- Serious emotional maladjustment.
- A recognized high risk of physical or mental disability.
- Over age eight (8) which presents a barrier to adoption.
- Over the age of two (2) and has racial or ethnic factors which present a barrier to adoption.
- Is a member of a sibling group that should be placed together.
- Has been certified as a special needs child by the Department.
- The child shall be the primary focus in the determination of the adoption assistance payment. The subsidy shall be based on the special needs of the child. See DCF Policy 48-18-5 for actual current subsidized adoption rates available to families caring for special needs children.
- Some children may be eligible for a medically complex rate - see DCF Policy 48-18-5 for more information.
- If the child is eligible to receive S.S.I. payments, the family income will be taken into account after finalization in determining the amount of the S.S.I. payment.
- The child may receive a periodic (monthly) subsidy and/or lump sum payment only up to the child’s eighteenth (18) birthday.
- The medical subsidy may continue until age twenty-one (21) only when the child is a resident of Connecticut. The medical subsidy provides for payment to medical vendors who are participating members in the state Medicaid program in accordance with established fee schedules. The medical subsidy covers only those medical services approved for inclusion within the Medicaid Program by the Department of Social Services.
- Any child adopted from DCF foster care after December 31, 2004 is eligible to apply for the college tuition/post secondary education reimbursement program. See the “Post Adoption Services” section of this website for more details.
The one hundred percent (100%) Medical Expense Subsidy is based on a determination during the adoption process or subsequent to adoption that a specific condition existed prior to the adoption and requires current medical care and treatment. This program will be operated and funded in accordance with the fiscal, policy and procedural guidelines of the state Medicaid program. (DCF Policy 48-18-15) This program includes payments for medical services not paid for by the Department of Social Services which are related to the handicapping condition for which the child was defined as a special needs child.
Reimbursement of Non-Recurring Adoption Expenses
DCF will reimburse those families adopting special needs children for up to $750 of their adoption related expenses that are directly related to the adoption.
Request for Subsidy After Finalization
Adoptive parents may find it necessary to request a subsidy after the adoption has been finalized. Once the “Application for an Adoption Subsidy after Finalization” is filed with all the supporting documentation, a subsidy may be considered at the discretion of the Commissioner for conditions resulting from, or directly related to, the totality of circumstances surrounding the child prior to placement in adoption. A post-finalization subsidy cannot be granted for new conditions or circumstances that occurred following legal adoption.
Post–Finalization Activities: Subsidized Adoption
Once a subsidized adoption has been finalized, the Subsidized Adoption Unit within the Office of Foster Care and Adoption Services assumes responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the adoption subsidy. The unit carries out the following duties:
- Conducting a biannual review of each subsidy;
- Determining whether a subsidy should continue, be modified, or be terminated;
- Assisting in the location of lost or delayed “subsidized adoption” checks; and
- Processing subsidies which are requested after an adoption has been finalized.
Adoption Subsidy Review BoardAny subsidy decision by the Department may be appealed by the adopting parents or a licensed child placing agency to the Adoption Subsidy Review Board (CGS 17a-117(b)). If a subsidy is to be terminated or reduced by the Department, proper notice must be given. If an appeal is taken, a hearing shall be held before the Adoption Subsidy Review Board at least thirty days prior to the termination or reduction, and the subsidy shall continue without modification until the final decision of the Board.
What is the subsidized guardianship program?
This program is intended to provide a permanent plan for children in the care and custody of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) who are placed by DCF with their licensed relative caregivers and who cannot return home due either to the death of a parent or the inability to provide a home within the foreseeable future. The child(ren) must have resided with their relative caretaker for at least 6 months. A thorough assessment of the child’s placement will be completed by DCF prior to recommending the transfer of guardianship to the relative. The subsidized guardianship program will then provide the relative caretaker with a monthly board and care payment equal to the prevailing foster care rate (minus any income the child has, such as social security) plus medical coverage in the state Medicaid HMO program.
(Public Acts 97-272, Sec. 7 and 05-254-eff. 10-1-05), DCF Policy 41-50-2. This program was authorized by the Connecticut legislature in September of 1998. This program recognizes the importance of financially supporting relative caretakers of children in DCF care who are willing to assume the legal guardianship of the children in their care.
What are the details of the program?
In Connecticut the subsidized guardianship program is initiated by a relative caretaker in conjunction with the local area office DCF social worker. Once the caretaker indicates an interest in the guardianship program, the DCF worker will assess the relative placement in terms of whether or not this is a viable permanent plan for the child and make a recommendation as to the advisability of transferring the guardianship to the relative caretaker. If transferring the guardianship is deemed to be in the best interest of the child, the social worker will then file a Motion to Revoke/Transfer Custody of the child/children with the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters. The motion is then reviewed by a Judge who can authorize the transfer of guardianship to the proposed relative caregiver.
Once guardianship is granted, an application is made by the relative caregiver to the Department for a subsidy. A financial and medical subsidy may be authorized, based on the child’s financial needs. The case is closed at this point for DCF casework services but the financial and medical subsidy case only is then maintained and managed in DCF’s Central Office by the Subsidy Unit housed within the Office of Children and Youth in Placement, 505 Hudson St., Hartford, CT 06106.
Relative guardians also may be eligible for a one-time exceptional expense payment of no more than $500 per child for expenses incurred by the family in the transfer of custody process. There are no additional payments for daycare, clothing, or other services that may have been paid under foster care.
The child is eligible for the subsidized guardianship program until he/she reaches eighteen (18) years of age or twenty-one (21) years of age if the child is in continuous full-time attendance at a secondary school, technical school or college or is in a state-accredited job-training program.
Please note: A “relative” or “related" person means an adult who is related by blood, marriage, or adoption descended from a common ancestor not more than three generations removed (from the child).
The Department conducts an annual review of each guardianship subsidy to determine if the subsidy shall continue, be modified, or be terminated. Annually, a subsidized guardian must submit a sworn statement to the Department that the child is still living with the guardian and receiving financial support from the guardian. A subsidized guardian may request a subsidy hearing when he/she disagrees with the Department’s proposal to modify or terminate a guardianship subsidy.
The Department of Children and Families wants to let Connecticut families know there are children right here in our state who need families to call their own for a lifetime. Did you know that over 500 children are adopted from the Connecticut foster care system every year? Adopting through DCF is a wonderful way to build your family and create a lifelong relationship with a child.
The months of November and December are spent preparing for holidays and enjoying the anticipation of a New Year beginning. Families gather round and reflect back on the year ending; and look forward to what may occur next. They eagerly anticipate the reactions of their loved ones, when they hand out their expressly selected presents. In this season of reflection and thankfulness, families count their blessings and children look forward to the fun and festivities to come.
Children in DCF’s care have much of the same desires and aspirations as any other child; however, their most fervent wish is a gift which cannot be purchased at any store. What is the biggest gift a child could have that does not cost a dime? What would make them sigh into a blissful, contented sleep at night? What could possibly make a teenager put down the electronic devices and choose to be part of hearth and home?
The answer is simple……actually having a home and family where they can enjoy the feeling of connectedness, and belief in the knowledge they will belong somewhere for a lifetime. The gift of belonging in a family, who will stand by them through life’s up and downs, will provide them the nest from which they can venture out into the world and spread their wings. Adopting a child or sibling group through DCF is a lifetime gift for both them and your family.
When one usually thinks about adoption, visions of babies and nurseries most often come to mind. However; adopting from the state foster care system is one possible way to create - or enrich - your family. DCF is always seeking adoptive families to parent children from all backgrounds, and of every age. We are especially in need of families who can care for sibling groups, teenagers and children with complex medical needs.
As we are all preparing to gather those we love around us for the holiday season, there are children in Connecticut grappling with the thought they will not be with their own brothers or sisters today, tomorrow or sometimes forever. Separating siblings is never something DCF wants to do, but the lack of families who can care for multiple children is a reality. Taking in siblings and creating an “instant family” is a large undertaking; however, it is incredibly wonderful to be able to maintain the close connection brothers and sisters share.
Have your children all moved on to their own lives, leaving you missing the happy chaos of parenting? Think about opening your home and heart to an older youth who needs a loving family to help them become a successful adult. Teens are often forgotten when a family thinks about adoption. They may only need to live in your home for a short time before they move on and become independent; but they need a family for a lifetime.
When thinking about adopting children with complex medical needs, some believe you are required to have a medical background. Certainly, children with these challenges require a different level of parenting, but families are given specific training and are provided all the information they need to learn about the medical concerns and to prepare for becoming parents. Supports are in place to assure the overall well being of the family.
Many might think you need to own a home, be married, have already parented, or have a medical background to become an adoptive parent; but none of that is true. The process is free and only “costs” your time and commitment. DCF provides training and support throughout the process. Upon placement into your home you receive a medical and financial subsidy and most children are eligible for this subsidy to continue after the finalization of the adoption, until young adulthood. Support services are also available through DCF Voluntary Services and the Adoption Assistance program. DCF also offers college financial assistance.
The children highlighted on our Heart Gallery website represent the many children in need of families who will come forward to claim them as their own. You can read all about these and other children by going to our website: http://www.portal.ct.gov/DCF/CTFosterAdopt/Heart-Gallery. Some children are ready to walk into their adoptive families’ homes right now and still others need families to come forward and commit to them while the legal work is completed.
You are only a phone call away from starting the process to make a positive change in the life of a child and your family forever. There is no need to go overseas; or even out of state, to adopt. There are children right in your own backyard who need you.
Learn more about how you can become a foster or adoptive parent through DCF by calling 1-888-KID-HERO or e-mail: KidHero@cafafct.org
A New Beginning for Us AllDCF is creating new ways of interacting with foster parents to better support children. By DCF Commissioner, Joette Katz
At the Department of Children and Families, we care about children. We want kids whose families have been torn apart to have some normalcy in their lives. We want them to feel safe and wanted, and to know that people care about them. We want them to feel part of their communities, play on sports teams, go to birthday parties and go on vacation.
We want them to have breakfast in the morning with the same people who put them to bed at night. But that will require us to recruit more foster families and do a better job of retaining the ones we have.
In the past, DCF has not always fulfilled its promise to foster parents. Our foster parents have told us that, over the years, department workers have not always given them enough information, provided them with the appropriate help and supports, or shown them the respect and appreciation they deserve. Sometimes, foster parents have reached out to caseworkers for help or advice, and waited far too long for a response.
But a new day has dawned. When I stepped down from my position as a Supreme Court justice in the winter of 2011, it was because I felt compelled to make a difference for the most vulnerable children in our state. As a judge, I frequently saw the disturbing results of a society that didn’t do enough to care for its children: parents charged with abusing their offspring, and kids in trouble with the law.
As a mom, I couldn’t bear the thought that our children were falling through the cracks. After taking the helm as commissioner of the DCF, I gathered a team to get Connecticut’s largest government agency back on the right track – to find out what was wrong, and figure out how best to make necessary changes.
Over the past year, we’ve been working on a report called “We All Need Somebody,” aimed at clarifying our mission and procedures so that foster families and foster children receive the highest level of care and support.
That report is our road map to the future. It looks at everything from how we recruit to how quickly we license foster parents; how we put needed services in a foster home and keep kids out of congregate care. This is a time of tremendous momentum and change. We are revamping our system from end to end and from top to bottom. From the minute you call DCF, you will not only get a friendly, responsive person on the other end of the line, but information, training, licensing and support – everything you need to make an informed decision, know where you stand throughout the licensing process, and connect with a child who desperately needs your care.
Those who become foster parents will also receive the resources they need: health insurance for the child, a monthly stipend, and access to programs, activities and resources that will make their experience more manageable and more rewarding.
If you’ve thought of fostering a child but are concerned that you may not be able to afford it, don’t worry. Fostering a child will not cost you anything but love. We even pay the cost of sending that child to college.
Our job – and yours – has also been made easier by new legislation that allows us, for the first time, to share personal background information about any medical and emotional challenges that children may have as a result of issues in their previous environment. Armed with better information and more comprehensive support, foster parents will be better equipped and more confident about meeting their foster child’s needs.
Many prospective foster parents have concerns about how a new child, especially one who comes from a difficult background, will blend in with their existing family. We know that these children may act out, especially in the beginning. That’s because, perhaps for the first time in their life, they feel safe to express their emotions. They are not used to structure – the family structure that you’re providing.
But as our existing foster families tell us, helping a child transition from feelings of fear, anger and hopelessness to ones of comfort, safety and warmth is one of the most gratifying experiences they’ve ever had. And involving their biological children in that process has allowed the family to relate on a deeper level and develop shared values and memories that last a lifetime.
No matter what your concern, we are here for you, in more and better ways than ever before. We know what needs to be done, and we have committed to providing the highest level of service possible.
Caring for the at-risk children in our community is an enormous undertaking. We know it’s not just about coming up with great ideas; it’s about following up and implementing. I’m determined to deliver on every promise I make, and what I can promise is better partnership. Let’s work together to help the children who need us the most.
The Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership (CT BHP) is a program that will improve the behavioral health care for children and families who are enrolled HUSKY A and HUSKY B Programs as well as providing some limited services for children enrolled in DCF Voluntary services.
DCF and DSS contracted with Beacon Health to be the Administrative Services Organization (ASO) for the CT BHP. An ASO is an organization with special expertise in behavioral health service management that can authorize and monitor various types and levels of care, track payment and collect data on consumers and providers who are enrolled in the CT BHP.
CT BHP is not a provider of behavioral health services, but rather a tool for management of behavioral health care for HUSKY members.
DCF kids who are HUSKY members and have behavioral health needs are eligible for services such as outpatient therapy, inpatient psychiatric hospital, home-based therapies such as IICAPS. CT BHP is contacted by providers to assess the child's clinical need and authorize the appropriate level of care to meet the child's needs in the least restrictive setting.
Foster Care Disruption Pilot Project - CT BHP gets intensively involved with children who are in first time foster placement. Currently piloted at the following area offices: Hartford, New Britain, Norwich, Waterbury, and Manchester. CT BHP Intensive Care Managers work with staff at the area office to coordinate about getting kids into behavioral health treatment if they need it. CT BHP Peer Specialists work with the foster parents to help them navigate the system and provide support to keep the placement intact.
- Intensive Care Managers (ICM) - behavioral health clinicians that work with the most complex behavioral health issues. Coordinate with providers and DCF to help connect to care
- Peer Specialists - CT BHP staff that have experienced behavioral health issues themselves or in family members. Work directly with families to provide support
*The services of Intensive Care Managers and Peer Specialists are not just available to those children eligible for the pilot project. Any child that has HUSKY and therefore has behavioral health benefits through the CT BHP is able to have the services of the ICM or peer specialist. The child's therapist/counselor, parent, guardian, DCF worker, foster care worker can call the CT BHP and make a request.
REAL LIFE - REAL STORIES
Tanya and Dolan Simmons of Groton, CT, first welcomed a child into their home when their own kids were 4 and 5 (twins) – all 3 sons, who are now grown and married, with children of their own. That was through the Fresh Air Fund, a program in New York that helps kids growing up in the inner city have a summer experience in a smaller town. By 2001, the Simmonses were licensed to provide foster care. Since then, they have taken in over 100 children, mostly teen boys, from right here in Connecticut. Currently, they care for Thane, age 17 and Sobie, age 18.
Sobie was just 14½ years old when he first met Tanya and Dolan, 3½ years ago. Attending Fitch High School in Groton is only Sobie’s day job. He also works at McDonald’s, a job he has held for over 2 years. He saved money diligently, and with help from Our Piece of the Pie matching savings funds, he purchased his own car. He plays basketball, lifts weights, and is active in the family’s church, The Open Door Baptist Church in Stonington.
Sobie’s first impression of the Simmons family was that “they were nice,” that their house was “calm.” Kids coming into foster care may be coming from a very chaotic environment, where they struggle against many odds to reach their full potential. Sobie credits his relationship with his foster parents as providing him with the support he has needed to “reach my milestones” such as learning to drive, purchasing his car, getting a job, and preparing for college. Sobie plans to attend Three Rivers Community College, then transfer to Eastern to complete his 4-year college degree.
Parenting teens appeals to families who may not want to tackle (or relive) the diapers stage of parenting. Foster parents meet the needs of teens by setting clear expectations, helping the youth find an activity to excel at, modeling safe and healthy relationship behaviors, and by offering a listening ear and words of guidance. Foster families raising teens generally need support with a couple of key issues: planning for after-school activities and help navigating difficult behaviors. DCF supports families through trainings that target possible gaps in parenting skills or experience, such as conflict de-escalation and internet safety. In addition, DCF helps licensed families find appropriate after-school activities to keep teens occupied and engaged in positive experiences.
The Simmons' enjoy a positive working relationship with Shawn Fizzano, Sobie’s social worker in the Norwich DCF office. Shawn helps Sobie with post-high school plans and also with practical issues such as obtaining a YMCA membership. Sobie remarks that Shawn has been “proactive,” and the Simmonses comment that they always know they can reach Shawn and that he has been very accessible to the family and to Sobie.
Shawn states of Sobie, “One of his most unique qualities is his resiliency and ability to remain focused and driven” even after facing difficulties. Shawn has worked for DCF for over 8 years, and believes the greatest impact he can make is by working with teens. Shawn’s work involves assuring that Sobie is provided with the best case management services available. He also makes sure the youth’s needs are met physically, emotionally and financially.
“I try and I try and I never give up” on kids, Tanya explains. “Kids need to know you won’t give up on them when they do typical teenage stuff” like pushing limits or typical teenage risk-taking. “There are so many kids,” she continues, “who don’t have anyone to help them” with general life skills.
Kids like Sobie and Thane, and hundreds of other Connecticut kids, need someone to teach them to drive, to help them with schoolwork, to show them how to apply for a job, to introduce them to ways they can contribute positively to society. Social worker Shawn adds, “Your love and guidance can change the lives of youth in a magnificent way.”
DCF is ready to help families and individuals to take the step of faith into the journey that is providing foster care. There is a child in CT that needs your guidance and your care.
“My heart is filled with so much joy,” explains Marcus Wynn as he tries to put into words what fostering and adopting ean to him. 18 years ago, Marcus and his wife Maribel were high school sweethearts at Middletown High School. Early in their marriage, they had two biological children, Marnaizha and Marques. At one point they visited a family member who was a foster mom. On the 9-hour car ride home from North Carolina, they discussed becoming a foster family and upon arriving back in Connecticut, Maribel made the phone call that would change their lives.
Fast forward seven years, and the family has fostered 23 children. They are currently caring for a 3-month-old boy with Downs syndrome. Their open hearts and open doors have also resulted in 3 adoptions. 15-month-old Delana came first. When she was 3, the adoption was finalized, and she is now 7. Delana’s adoption is an “open adoption,” meaning Delana’s birth family is still involved, in this case her grandfather. Maribel laughs, “We adopted the grandfather too!” In the meantime, siblings Rowan, now 7, and McKenzie, now 4, arrived, and they too were adopted. Maribel describes that Rowan “had my heart” from the moment she saw him. Maribel calls adoption day “one of the best days ever!” Family and friends packed out the courtroom in Judge Marino’s office in Middletown, followed by a huge party with cake, balloons, food and games.
Maribel’s favorite quote is “all you need is love.” Believing they can teach something to every child, no matter how short or long they stay, keeps the family motivated to continue to open their home. Maribel and Marcus also believe that foster care has been a positive experience for their biological children, Marnaizha and Marques. “Their hearts are bigger” since they became foster siblings, and “they stand up for kids with different needs at school” because they have experienced living with children who have different needs at home. Maribel explains that her biological children have always wanted additional siblings; even now they hope to adopt the baby currently staying with them and still want more kids in the future!
Working with the Department of Children and Families has been a positive experience overall for the family. The Middletown office is “very helpful and supportive” according to Maribel. Families who foster and adopt through DCF are assigned their own support social worker. The Wynn family’s support social worker, Kathleen, has always been there for them. She is very responsive and attentive to the family’s needs, quick to answer questions regarding any issues that arise and coming out to the home as needed to offer assistance. The family is certainly wiser now and their eyes have been opened to the struggles that others may be going through. In general, children come into foster care due to immediate safety issues including neglect or abuse. Prospective foster and adoptive parents are fully vetted, trained and licensed before taking in a child, and parents receive ongoing training and support. “Go for it!” Marcus and Maribel would advise others who are considering fostering or adopting. Maribel adds, “If you have the heart and you have the home, you will learn a lot and you will help a child even if it’s for only a short time.” Marcus’ advice to men who may be considering becoming foster dads is to “fully jump into it, these kids really need you. They need your love and affection. Go in 100% with your heart and have faith that it will work out.”
Marcus and Maribel wish to thank their family and close friendsincluding Victory Christian Church in Middlefield, who have been so supportive and treat every new child with genuine love and affection. Maribel states, “Being a foster family is very rewarding and truly a blessing. It can be chaotic at times but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Darla Current always knew she wanted to be a mom. She and husband Ben have three biological children – Lilia (11), Paisley (9) and Chandler (3). Not planning on having more biological children, the Currents kept hearing about foster care and adoption. One day, Darla heard a radio ad for foster care. She and Ben decided it was finally time to move forward and become a licensed foster home.
At first, the family took only respite placements. Respite usually refers to short-term, limited duration foster care. Shortly thereafter, the family learned of two little girls who needed a longer term foster care placement – Avery and Arielle, sisters aged 4 and 5 (names have been changed.)
Darla recalls that her first impression of the girls was that they were shy, but “I could tell they were really sweet and would fit in really well” with the Current family. Within 6 weeks, tragedy had struck. Avery and Arielle’s birth father passed away suddenly. Darla and Ben helped the girls to celebrate their father’s life even as they mourned his passing. The family still keeps a framed photo of the girls’ father in the home.
As for working with the Department of Children and Families, the Currents have enjoyed a positive relationship with social worker Colleen Donahue, Avery and Arielle’s caseworker. Darla comments that Colleen has been helpful, and “has given us a lot of her time.” Foster parents licensed in CT also have their own support social worker, whose job is to offer practical and emotional support to the family, make service referrals, remind families of relevant trainings, and ensure that the home meets DCF regulations, among other things.
The Currents feel that the foster parent training classes (which are the same as those for prospective adoptive parents) were helpful, but of course it is one thing to understand a concept in the class and another entirely to live it out. “You really have to know your limits, what you can do in a day,” Darla advises. The family has had to learn to advocate for their own needs and the needs of the children in their care, as well as learning to navigate the DCF system.
In terms of welcoming Avery and Arielle into their home, the family had scheduled a playdate with the other foster family ahead of time to meet the girls. They were able to let the girls help decide what to have for dinner their first night in their new home. Giving children in foster care small choices can help to empower children who may have felt powerless in the past.
The family is still dealing with many unknowns. Darla was recently diagnosed with leukemia, which meant that Avery and Arielle needed to move to another foster home. While Darla’s overall prognosis is good, the health issues disrupted a placement that the family was hoping would result in adoption, if family reunification was not going to be possible.
Hundreds of children in CT need safe, loving foster homes – kids in foster care need someone who can provide structure, consistency and love, model healthy behaviors, help a child build self-esteem, and remain flexible to accommodate many appointments and meetings that help a child to reach his or her full potential.
Like the Current family, if you have ever thought about providing foster care, if you have love to give and space in your home and life, call 1-888-KIDHERO to learn more today.
The first step in becoming a licensed foster or adoptive parent is to call 1-888-KID-HERO e-mail: KidHero@cafafct.org.
Adoption: For information regarding Adoption please contact Anne Marie Stonoha at AnneMarie.Stonoha@ct.gov
Foster Care: For Information about please contact Jacqueline Ford at Jacqueline.Ford@ct.gov
Subsidies: For all other information relating to adoption or relative guardianship subsidies, please contact Deanna McIntosh at 860-550-6608 or email@example.com
The below locations highlight the full gallery or a portion of the gallery. The most updated pictures and stories can be found on our website. The Department is very appreciative of our community partners who help us highlight our children. If any business is interested in hosting the Heart Gallery, please contact Jacqueline Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children's Museum, West Hartford
CT Post Mall, "Pop-Up" Store, Milford
Silk City Coffee Shop, Manchester
St. Theresa Church, North Haven
Sweet Harmony, Middletown
A Special THANK YOU to Jordan's Furniture! Jordan's Furniture, in New Haven, is a wonderful community partner. W e value their continued commitment to helping our Heart Gallery children find their forever home.
* Heart Gallery Care Books are in many of our CT doctor and dentist offices, as well as other public waiting room areas.