- DEPT. of CHILDREN and FAMILIES
together with families and communities for children who are healthy,
safe, smart and strong."
Connecticut General Assembly Committee on Children
CT KIDS REPORT CARD
June 25, 2013
Our Desired Result: All Connecticut children
grow up in stable environments, safe, healthy, and ready to lead
FINAL handout Leadership Committee 6-25-2013 Meeting. Handout.pptx
Safe, Smart, and Strong
Strategic Framework for the Connecticut
Department of Children and Families: Parts I and II
A renewed vision for DCF children, families and the
people who serve them
December, 2012 (Revised April 2013)
Table of Contents
Message from the Commissioner
Part I: Setting the Context
• A Diverse
Service Population and Workforce
• Initial Goals:
January 2011 through June 2012
• The Continuum
of Care Partnership
• Results to Date
• Nine DCF
Strategies for 2012‐2015
for full 16-page
Per II: Anchoring the Strategic Plan in Results Based
• CT KIDS Report Card
• DCF's Contribution to
the Population Results Statement
• Turning the Curve
• The Data Development
and Research Agendas
Part IV: The 2012-2015 DCF Strategic Plan
• Strategy 1: Advance
investment in prevention and health promotion
• Strategy 2: Apply
strength‐based, family‐centered policy, practice and supports
• Strategy 3: Develop
or expand regional networks of in‐home and community services
• Strategy 4: Address
the needs of specific populations
• Strategy 5: Support
collaborative partnerships with communities and other state agencies
• Strategy 6: Support
the public and private sector workforce
• Strategy 7: Increase
the capacity of DCF to manage both change and ongoing operations
• Strategy 8: Improve
revenue maximization and develop reinvestment priorities and methods
Part IV: What Will Success Look Like?
A. A Further Note on the Structure of the Results Based
B. Charting the Strategies and Contributing Program Areas
C. Understanding Brain
Development and Adverse Childhood Experiences
D. A Summary of the USD#2 Education Framework
FAMILY ASSESSMENT RESPONSE (FAR)
Community Approach to Supporting Families
WHAT IS DIFFERENTIAL RESPONSE?
Receiving a call or visit from DCF can be frightening.
Differential Response is a different way of responding
to allegations of child abuse and neglect. Once we know your children
are safe, the worker may offer you a special kind of service called a
Family Assessment Response.
What is a Family Assessment Response?
A Family Assessment Response is a program that:
all families have strengths and abilities
together with parents and their supports
services and resources to help meet the needs of families
connect families to their community Other states that have used a
Differential Response System have seen better outcomes for children,
including greater family satisfaction because they participate in
identifying solutions that make them stronger and more capable.
A Family Assessment Response is a strength‐based,
family focused program that works together with families to identify
their strengths, needs and to help connect families with services and
supports in the community. The purpose of this approach is to keep
children and families from becoming re‐involved with DCF by
engaging and helping families identify solutions to their problems and
working closely with community programs and organizations.
How Does a Family Assessment Response Work?
Once a report is accepted for a Family Assessment
Response, the worker will assess the safety of your children as well
as identify your family's strengths and needs.
Once the safety of your children has been established,
families decide whether they wish to participate in services.
Child and Family Team Meetings are held to develop
plans to help support your family and address concerns. Families
identify who they wish to invite to these meetings.
Together we will create a Service Plan that describes
the steps that will be taken to support your family by DCF, the
community, and by you.
DCF can assist your family by connecting you to services
and resources in the community for ongoing support or in times of need.
Why am I receiving a Family Assessment Response?
report involving your family was accepted by the Careline.
report was considered a low risk report.
family has had limited or no involvement with DCF in the past.
child is found to be safe.
What kind of help can I get?
You know better than anyone what you and your family
needs. Your social worker will work with you to find the right kind of
help. He or she will explain the services, resources and supports
available in your community. Together you will decide what is best for
you and your family.
These are the areas that have been shown to improve the
health and well being of families. We will be talking about these in our
a strong bond with your children
knowledgeable about parenting
how to bounce back and seek help when needed
a strong connection to the community
able to meet the basic needs of your family
Together we will find what is needed to strengthen your
Department of Children and Families
505 Hudson Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Phone (860) 550-6300
Copyright © 2012 State of Connecticut
DCF Strengthening Families Practice Model
The mission of the Department of Children and Families
is to protect children, improve child and family well-being and support and preserve families. These efforts are
accomplished by respecting and working within individual cultures and communities in Connecticut, and in
partnership with others.
The goal of the Practice Model is to provide a framework
for how the agency as a whole will work internally and partner with families, service providers, and others to put our
mission and guiding principles into action in daily practice and operations. At its core, the model is the description of
what we do, how we do it, why we do it and what outcomes we hope to achieve for children and families.
The Department's model of practice is one of direct
intervention based upon engagement and assessment. The model emphasizes case supervision which includes
administrative, educational and supportive components as one of its
primary strategies to improve practice.
Connecticut's Practice Model is implemented through
seven core strategies:
and Ongoing Assessments of Safety and Risk
The model is grounded in beliefs about how the
Department and its partners should work with children and families.
and foremost, child safety is assured by all staff.
do best when living safely at home with their family of origin.
interactions and resulting relationships of staff with children,
parents, family members and foster parents have substantial consequences on the outcomes of our
interventions. These interactions must take place with full respect for the individuals, with sensitivity to their
perspectives, experiences and culture.
permanency and well-being are achieved and considered for all children
regardless of how they became involved with the Department.
achieve safety, permanency, and well-being of children, the Department
must work collaboratively and effectively internally, and with the child's and
family's community. This community includes the child and the extended family as well as private service providers,
educators, and other public agencies.
living at home with a parent is not reasonably safe, the best
alternative is to live in the home of another family member that can provide a safe and nurturing
no family member can provide a suitably safe home that meets the child's
needs, the child should receive care and services in an appropriate and safe setting until
timely permanency can be achieved, including reunification, subsidized guardianship and adoption.
should be individualized and must be based on a full assessment of the
strengths and needs of children and families. This assessment must be made together with
family members and age-appropriate children. A full assessment is inclusive of safety, risk, domestic
violence, substance abuse, criminogenic needs, medical, dental, educational and behavioral health needs.
goal of these individualized services is to enable the child to do well
and thrive living in the family home of a parent, family member or another permanent family.
Family engagement is a process that serves as the
foundation of the DCF Practice Model. Family engagement begins with the very first contact the Department, its partners and
service providers have with a family. A critical component of family engagement is an effort to establish a working
partnership with the family in achieving goals and objectives that have been developed together with the family, the child
(when age and developmentally appropriate) and service providers. Family Conferencing and Child & Family
Teams serve as are vehicles for case planning, identifying resources, and problem-solving with the family. In order to ensure
effective family engagement, we work to identify, locate and involve children's relatives, including those of
non-custodial parents. This engagement also extends to natural community
supports such as former foster parents, coaches,
mentors, teachers, and neighbors. If a parent is whereabouts unknown, we make ongoing diligent efforts to identify, locate and
involve them. If children are in the Department's care, birth parents should be partnering with foster parents in
caring for their children and are involved in activities such as medical
appointment and extracurricular activities. In cases
where the Department only has physical custody of a child due to a delinquency commitment, we should work with the family
to ensure they take a key role in the case planning and supervision of the child.
Every interaction with a child and family should be
purposeful and derive from the case plan. This includes visitation and service delivery within child welfare, intervention and
case coordination within behavioral health, and supervision and care planning that occurs within the juvenile justice
In child welfare and parole services, effective
visitation is a primary vehicle for achieving case goals and meeting children's and families' needs. The goals of visits with
children and families are to establish a mechanism for ongoing communication between the social worker/parole officer
and the family, to give focus to the case plan and discuss progress of service interventions toward meeting the
goals, and to create accountability for both the Department and the family in assuring the safety, permanency, and
well-being of the children and community safety.
Visits should be scheduled to meet the Department's
standards for frequency and the needs of children and families. They should primarily be held in the family home (biological
and foster) by the assigned social worker/parole officer and at times convenient for children and both biological and
foster parents. Visits should be planned in advance, with issues noted for exploration and goals established for the time
spent together. Social workers and parole officers should individualize their visits by providing separate time
for discussions with children and parents. This provides the opportunity to privately share their experiences and
concerns and to ensure that domestic violence or other issues that might not be disclosed when other family members are
present are identified and addressed, as needed. All children in the home should be seen during visits, regardless of the
reason for the Department's involvement with a family.
Family Centered Assessments
Family Centered Assessment (FCA) is the ongoing and
continuous process for gathering, organizing, and analyzing information for the purpose of informed decision-making
and service planning concerning the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families. Beyond an
assessment of safety, risk and the circumstances leading to agency involvement, the FCA includes a broader focus on the
strengths and needs of all individual family members along with underlying conditions affecting the family. The FCA
includes assessments of safety, risk, domestic violence, substance abuse, medical, dental, educational, psychosocial
functioning, behavioral health needs and criminogenic needs. It also includes an assessment of the family's strengths,
protective factors and natural supports. The FCA helps guide the Department's case planning and service delivery process.
As such, the process is implemented in all types of care across all settings. It is clearly documented in the record and
serves as the foundation for our understanding of the family's strengths and needs. Collaboration with key
professionals, both internal consultants and external service providers,
throughout the process is critical to a full assessment.
The Family Centered Assessment may take different forms depending on the family's involvement with the
Department, such as the ConnCAP in Parole Services, but the principles of family centered assessment apply in all case
Initial and Ongoing Assessments of Safety and Risk
Safety and risk assessments are designed to help
children remain safely at home whenever possible and appropriate and to inform interventions that maximize functioning and
well-being. Assuring child safety begins with the first contact with DCF and continues throughout the family's involvement
with the Department and community partners. Assessments inform the development of safety plans, as well as case
plans. Safety and risk assessment is the responsibility of staff in Child Welfare, Juvenile Services, and Behavioral Health
regardless of the reason for the family's involvement with the Department. Assessments of safety and risk are
applicable for all children within a home regardless of how the family
is involved with DCF. In cases where Structured Decision
Making (SDM) tools are not required, the SDM concepts for how to assess for safety and risk are applied through other
formal and informal assessments. Ongoing assessments of community safety must also be considered when the
child's needs and behaviors pose a danger to the community.
Effective Case Planning
Case planning is the process of engaging, collaborating
and working with families to assess and address their needs in order to preserve their family unit, protect their
children from harm and improve their well-being. All families have strengths and the goal is to build on these strengths in
order to meet their needs. Family involvement and self-determination in the planning and service delivery process is
critical. Reasonable efforts shall be made to engage all family members, both maternal and paternal, regardless
of household composition, during case plan development, Administrative Case Reviews, Treatment Plan Reviews and
The case plan should be developed using information from
safety/risk assessments, family centered assessments, and appropriate input from internal consultants and service
providers. Care should be individualized to meet the specific needs of the child and family. Effective case planning
principles apply in all circumstances regardless of how a child or family becomes involved with the Department. When a
family or child is receiving services from another agency or service provider, the Department will communicate and
collaborate with that external partner to ensure the case plan and other service plans complement each other.
Every child is entitled to a safe and permanent home. In
order to assure this, decisions should be made in a timely manner and must be based on information gathered from
comprehensive strengths and needs assessments, reflect the developmental and psychosocial needs of the child, the
cognitive abilities of the parents and the child's legal status and circumstances. Decisions should be made with parental
and age-appropriate child input. Major decision points should address safety and risk concerns, appropriate placement
decisions, establishment and review of permanency goals, linking services to needs, child and family functioning and
well-being, community safety, the goals and preferences of the child and family members, and case closure.
Individualizing services is an important strategy for
meeting the unique needs of children and families. Services should be designed and delivered pursuant to a Comprehensive
Family Assessment of children’s and parents’ strengths and needs, within the framework of the legal requirements
for each case. Children and families are treated as partners to ensure joint decision making about which services can
best meet their needs, how those services are delivered, who delivers the services, when they are delivered and that
they take the family's cultural background into account.
Systems of Care principles are central in emphasizing
services that are comprehensive and incorporate a broad array of supports that are individualized to meet the specific
needs of the children and families. An important aspect of individualizing services is ensuring that if children
come into DCF care they are placed in the most appropriate, least restrictive setting to meet their needs. Placements
should close to their community of origin and support the child’s culture.
Whenever possible, programs and interventions should be
evidence-based and proven effective for the problem or condition
that is the focus of care. In the absence of an appropriate
evidence-based practice, efforts should be made to develop
and/or incorporate promising and best practices. The use of natural
supports that are available within the child's neighborhood
and community should be encouraged to promote sustainability of
improvements and family self-sufficiency.
When existing contracted services are not available to
meet the needs of our clients, wrap-around funding should be used to
secure appropriate services. The service plan for children and families
should be reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure they are achieving the
seeks ways to work with families
hopes to alter image
The state Department
of Children and Families would like to shed its reputation as the
adversary — “that state agency that’s here to take your child.”
This month marks the
start of a statewide effort that employees in Eastern Connecticut say
will lead to fewer confrontational meetings with families accused of
abuse or neglect of a child.
“The biggest change
is they are going to get a phone call before they get a knock at the
door,” said Leslie Roy, DCF’s Willimantic-based program manager for
The phone call is part
of the statewide “Differential Response System,” which separates
low-risk cases of abuse and neglect from the more serious reported cases
where a child may be in danger.
High vs. low
While high-risk cases,
such as reports of physical and sexual abuse, will continue to receive
forensic-style investigations, Norwich DCF Program Manager David Silva
said the phone call is part of a “family assessment response”
designed to encourage family participation in the process of working
— up to 200 new cases per month in New London County — often are
prompted by calls from neighbors or mandated reporters such as school
staff. Low-risk cases often involve such things as inadequate
supervision or educational needs, Silva said.
The family assessment
cases make up 40 percent of the calls to the DCF Care line. Silva said
studies show the new model results in fewer child removals and lower
Eighty percent of the
cases are what Silva called “repeat customers” and are part of the
reason for the change in philosophy when dealing with families.
DCF plans to work
together with the family to identify needs, weigh risks and help
to direct them to community-based services because many families are
impoverished, Silva said.
“That phone call is
instrumental in releasing their anxieties, sets them at ease,” said
Rocco Carbone, a family assessment worker in Windham County.
“It felt very
intrusive,” Willimantic assessment worker Antina Brown said of the
unannounced visits. “Some cases don’t justify that type of
assessment workers were known as investigators.
“The expectation is
there is going to be more time spent with the family — to get to know
them better,” Roy said.
Brown said the agency
is recognizing that families are more the experts on themselves rather
than DCF “coming in and telling you what you need.”
In Norwich, DCF plans
to work with Community Health Resources, which is expected to open an
office at the Mercantile Exchange. It offers in-home case management.
DCF already works with
school liaisons and social workers across Eastern Connecticut who have
access to a network of agencies. In addition to school liaisons in
places like New London, Windham and Colchester, Silva said DCF hopes to
have a person in the Norwich school system, specifically Kelly Middle
School, in the near future.
“The hope is the
community will come together to help those families.” Roy said. “I
think this will have a huge impact.”
The Norwich DCF
office, which covers all of New London County, has 23 people, including
15 intake workers and eight family assessment workers. The Willimantic
office handles slightly less, at about 7,000 cases per year.
“I’ve been really
excited abut this change, This is what I was thinking when I started
with DCF,” Brown said.
Content Last Modified on 3/12/2012 2:20:39