A Message from Commissioner Dorantes...
July tends to be full of hot summer days, time off for vacations and a slower pace in the work - not true here at the Department of Children and Families. Once again, our month was filled with many events and success stories which demonstrate the successes of our system when families, the Department, and the community collaborate.
Earlier this month, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra visited Connecticut. I participated in a roundtable discussion at Family and Children's Aid in Waterbury along with Senator Chris Murphy, Representative Jahana Hayes, Representative Rosa DeLauro, and community providers to discuss HHS funding in the recently passed Gun Violence Prevention Bill.
Sponsored and arranged by Casey Family Programs, Connecticut was honored to host a contingent of Congressional aides from around the country.
First on the site visit agenda was a discussion of the Department's vision for transformation to a child wellbeing system. Voices of individuals impacted by child welfare system involvement were prominent during a lunchtime panel. Senior Leaders discussed the process of developing a Plan of Safe Care for families with substance-exposed infants, and we also shared progress towards implementation of our Family First prevention plan. The visit culminated with trips to community provider agencies and included presentations of promising outcomes towards reunification, services to families and the resource center model.
We were so proud to show off Connecticut and to demonstrate efficacy of federal policies implemented here.
We also want to thank the staff at the Wilderness School for another fantastic graduation! One of the three groups of youth returning from expeditions participated in a unique collaboration between DCF and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to incorporate summer youth employment and an environmental conservation corps, which introduced youth to environmental sciences.
In the midst of national workforce challenges, our employees at Solnit North and Solnit South provide continuous care to children and youth 24/7 365 days a year. My sincere gratitude for your tireless efforts to keep both campuses safe and functioning. We appreciated our candid discussion during the listening tour, and we will be back!
Our Spotlight this month highlights great outcomes for the children and families we serve. Read as two siblings are now placed with kin in Alaska! You will hear how "Team Waterbury" supported this family, resulting in these adolescents finding their permanent home.
For Joseph, DCF and community support came at the right time as he was experiencing "a very low time…" Today, he is sober, a proud father and one who credits the non-judgmental attitudes of two specific Social Workers for his successes.
Our foster parents are unique in their devotion to children. For one family, they became licensed specifically to support children in the district where one teaches! And…that foster parent became teacher of the year! Spend some time reading their inspirational story and how they partner with birth parents towards reunification - all the children placed into their home have returned to their families!
July was also a significant marker for statewide retirements. As we said "so long" to a host of colleagues who have become friends, we hope that their legacy will be the strength of an Agency left stronger because of their commitment to service. We'll miss them all and carry-on great work in their honor!
I hope that all of you have been able to spend some rejuvenation time with your families this Summer.
Rest up, stay safe and know your efforts are truly appreciated.