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A person standing at a podium Description automatically generated with medium confidenceApril is Child Abuse Prevention Month!

Ensuring the safety of children who come to the Department's attention will always be our top priority.

As our work continues to evolve, we look to build upon our Prevention framework to reduce the number of families requiring DCF attention as we strengthen and empower communities to strengthen and empower families.

From left, Ivan Sarmiento, nurse manager, Saint Francis Hospital Emergency Department; Vannessa Dorantes, commissioner of Connecticut Department of Children and Families; Bolton First Selectman Pamela Sawyer, and Dr. Karianne Silverman, chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology.The 22nd anniversary of the Safe Havens Act for Newborns was celebrated this month. The law allows a parent - who does not believe they can care for their newborn - to voluntarily give up custody of an infant age 30 days or younger to the staff of an emergency room and remain anonymous. Read more here: Safe Havens.

This month's Spotlight on What's Right draws attention to the joy brought to a family who adopted one of the 52 babies since 2001 who have been placed via this act into adoptive homes!

A group of people standing in a courtroom Description automatically generated with medium confidenceAn urgent call for action occurred during a press conference at the State Capitol for Black Maternal Health Week. Did you know that Black women in America are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women? More information can found by reading this Proclamation from President Biden.

"I like being busy," stated Christian Ripke. As a sophomore transitional aged youth attending Fordham University, he Co-Chairs the Region 2 Youth Advisory Board, recently played in a national tennis tournament, aspires to be a Public Defender, and was offered a job to work at the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) in New York when he graduates. Read about Christian's incredible story and why he encourages other youth to "Use your voice and advocate for yourself."

A picture containing text, font, graphics, logo Description automatically generatedConnecticut DCF's work was highlighted at the 23rd Annual National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect with the 2023 theme - Doing Things Differently: Moving from the Challenge to the Change.

Along with colleagues from Minnesota and Illinois, I presented on the topic of Moving Toward Race Equity in Child Welfare: Changing Realities, Evolving Strategies.

At the conference, Jackie Ford Community Outreach Coordinator for DCF, received the 2023 Children's Bureau Champion Award for building Community Capacity! Read in the Spotlight about the innovative programs she has led which are now embedded in our communities and her vision for the future. "There is a rewarding aspect in everything we do," Jackie stated.

A close-up of a logo Description automatically generated with low confidenceDeputy Commissioner Jodi Hill-Lilly, Legal Director Zoe Stout and I presented at a Tri-Bar forum for the Minnesota Bar Association on the evolution of Connecticut's Child Welfare System. With great pride, we discussed our practice changes which have gained national recognition.

A yellow ribbon with a paw print Description automatically generated with medium confidenceApril is also Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. Professionals use the term "the link" to describe the correlation between animal maltreatment and child abuse and neglect. DCF and the Department of Agriculture have established cross-reporting protocols which result in the protection of both children and animals within our communities. 

April also saw significant legislative activity. Many thanks to Chief Administrator of Government Relations and Policy Vin Russo for leading the DCF team along with Assistant Legal Director Kate Dwyer - who completed the Boston Marathon last week - to ensure our interests are supported in recommended statute changes.

Enjoy the Spring weather everyone!