A Message from Commissioner Dorantes...
With sincere gratitude, I express to you appreciation for all you have done for the children and families we serve. From the everyday little things to the complex decisions that sometimes require our collective input---I am proud of the work I and others see from DCF. My thanks extends to how we have shown up for each other as we enter the 22nd month of this pandemic.
We have welcomed new staff-- learning the work of the Department in an entirely different way than most of us (…I wonder what it's like to only know new coworkers from the eyes up or through a computer monitor???). We've also begun our good-byes to members of our workforce who have reach the conclusion of their state service; taking with them institutional knowledge gleaned over the years. THANK YOU for everything you have contributed to this space we occupy with purpose to improve circumstances for those we serve.
As we turn the page on another calendar year-- with DCF and the world evolving to a 'new normal', I recently asked the leaders of this Dept to look inward and refocus their own sphere of influence over our ever-changing landscape. During our first Leadership Summit of 2022, we looked forward --- seeing the fruits of all of what we have accomplished together during unprecedented times.
During the Summit, we were further inspired by Aysha Schomburg, JD, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau Administration on Children Youth and Families. Her keynote included the status of child welfare as a whole across the country and her vision as she refines her strategic plan. "All of you are valiant and resilient," Commissioner Schomburg stated. So true. Her words could not be more relevant to my feelings towards you as I enter my 4th year as your Commissioner. She further affirmed Connecticut DCF as a leader in equity and racial justice work -- often called upon to share the journey we have been on.
Leaders from across the state had the privilege of sharing some of the 'early wins' of our work towards equitable outcomes. Special thanks to our Racial Justice leads for their contribution to the success of the Summit. Stay tuned for more about the information shared in the coming months from your respective leaders.
This past year we continued to be challenged. As we dealt with sadness and loss, focus remains on our mission critical work. It is in those efforts, serving families "…teetering on the edge of existence, that we see hope and the power of the human spirit. The journey has not always been easy, but necessary," I said that same day.
"Take a loving approach to the work," is how Commissioner Schomburg described the foundational element our core values. Connecticut embodies this, serving as agents of change and making a lifelong impact on the families and stakeholders we interact with.
This month's "Spotlight on What's Right" newsletter highlighting 'The Best of 2021'! See the accomplishments, innovation and resilience across each Division within our Department and the extensive collaboration with our community partners.
You will also read the story of a landlord, Angelique Croasdale, who established a life-long relationship with a tenant. That led to a kinship placement and a virtual adoption hearing with an entire classroom watching remotely! "I felt a powerful need to care for her," describing her journey towards their forever family.
January is also National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. During 2021, we received reports on 241 children and youth identified as victims. Read some of the fantastic work our Agency has done this past year to protect such vulnerable children and youth in our communities.
2022 came roaring in with the Omicron surge. We are challenged by the impact to our staffing coverage; I assure you we are working hard to alleviate that stress where possible. Through it all, we are still standing -- TOGETHER.