A Message from Commissioner Dorantes
February is Black History Month. "For each child that's born, the morning star rises and sings to the universe who we are." Fitting words sang as we celebrated and exchanged information and inspiration at the Central Office Black History month event - honoring the contribution and legacy of African Americans across United States history.
"Black Health and Wellness" is the theme for 2022, which places focus again on the importance of physical, mental, and spiritual health for each of us.
DCF remains committed to addressing disproportionate outcomes and eliminating disparity experienced by those we serve. As we strive to become a racially just organization, we will continue implementing leadership strategies - which hold all of us accountable.
Senate Bill 1 was passed last legislative session declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis in our state. Governor Lamont established a Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health. With great pride, I represent the work of this Department by being appointed to this body and highlight DCF's Racial Justice efforts.
Please read our Racial Justice Data, Activities and Strategies report recently submitted to the Connecticut legislature. Thank you to Monica Rams, Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs/Office of Diversity and Equity for compiling the great work occurring across DCF office, divisions and facilities!
The Department recently launched a targeted enhancement of our Faith-Based Initiative. 30 Pastors throughout Connecticut have made the commitment to work side by side with the Department to recruit foster parents within the Queen Esther foster care recruitment project. Along with that effort, the "Hands Off" campaign is the second strategy in this collaboration. This targeted partnership with predominantly Black church leaders, who already support the needs of their communities, is anchored by a PSA addressing the taboo topics of physical, sexual, and intimate partner violence within the Black community.
These credible messengers can also serve as linkages to resources to address historic racial trauma. In addition, DCF is crafting a consultation hub model using the Urban Trauma Framework. This clinical approach provides training and support to providers regarding the deleterious effects of racial trauma on children and youth of color across Connecticut's urban areas.
Congratulations to DCF Torrington Social Work Supervisor Anthony Gay for being awarded the 2022 Janet E. Williams Humanitarian Award for his commitment to serving our children and families. Along with his impassioned Fatherhood work, SWS Gay has dedicated attention to supporting, convening and amplifying the voices of Black men.
The Department also posthumously awarded Bridgeport DCF FASU Social Worker Mary Brantley this award and we were honored her family took part in the ceremony. Mary passed away last year after a 32-year career with the Department and was an incredibly active public servant. She is terribly missed by all who knew her, and her legacy of advocacy lives on.
Lastly, it is with tremendous pride I serve as CT DCF's first Black Commissioner.
When asked recently why declaring a 'first' in a position like this is even necessary? My response was simply, "… because representation matters."
In 2019, Gov Lamont was clear in his commitment to a diverse cabinet of subject matter experts. His nomination was thoughtful and intentional. I do my best to live up to the enormous responsibility of this role every day. I truly appreciate the hard work you all do to keep CT's children safe and families supported. It is an honor to lead such a dedicated workforce.