OLR Research Report


DCF THERAPEUTIC GROUP HOME CLOSURES

By: Katherine M. Dwyer, Associate Analyst


QUESTIONS
On what factors did the Department of Children and Families (DCF) base its decision to close five therapeutic group homes? How many children will be affected? How were the families of those children notified? Where will the children go when the homes close?

SUMMARY

In keeping with the department's goal of reducing reliance on congregate care placement, DCF is in the process of closing five therapeutic group homes and one short term assessment and respite (STAR) home. The department based its decision to close the group homes on several criteria, including geographic need and occupancy rate (see below). The homes have a total licensed bed capacity of 33, but as of August 4, 2014, only 19 of the beds were filled. The homes may remain open until August 31, 2014. The affected children's families were notified of the closures by the children's DCF case workers.

According to DCF, “individual transition plans have been developed by the DCF workers responsible for the 19 children that were placed in these homes. Some of the youth will move to other group homes, some may transition to adult services in [the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services] or [the Department of Developmental Services] and others may return home with community services.”

According to DCF, the (1) closures will save $4.6 million next fiscal year and $5.5 million the year after that and (2) reductions are part of the budget adjustments enacted by the General Assembly during the 2014 session. DCF also notes that the programs are grant funded, which means that they receive funding regardless of census.

GROUP HOME CLOSURES

DCF issued a report in 2011 that discussed the department's goal of reducing reliance on congregate care placements. According to the report, “the continually evolving research literature makes it very clear that congregate care placements for children can have significant negative impacts on children's overall development.” Since the report was issued, there are 593 (over 40%) fewer children living in group care. Additionally, 33% of children remaining in care now live with a relative or someone they know compared with 21% at the beginning of the current administration.

Table 1 lists the five therapeutic group homes and one short term assessment and respite (STAR) home scheduled to close. According to DCF, a STAR home is an emergency shelter that provides short-term care, assessment, and clinical and nursing services to children removed from their home due to abuse, neglect or other high-risk circumstances.

Table 1: Group Homes Scheduled To Close

Parent Agency

Home

Town

Gender Served

Licensed Bed Capacity

Community Mental Health Affiliates

Pando House

Torrington

Male

5

Northeast Center for Youth and Families

Horizon

Lebanon

Female

5

Wellspring Foundation

Pendana

Bethlehem

Female

5

Youth Continuum

Laurel House

Bridgeport

Male

6

Youth Continuum

Harbor House

Bridgeport

Male

6

Community Residences, Inc.

Nutmeg Drive (STAR)

Manchester

Male

6

FACTORS FOR CONSIDERATION

According to a 2014 statewide provider meeting presentation, DCF bases its decisions to close congregate care facilities on several criteria, including:

1. child-specific outcomes (i.e., permanency, clinical outcomes, stability, etc.);

2. geographic need;

3. occupancy rate;

4. percentage of matches accepted;

5. the number of police calls, arrests, and emergency safety interventions;

6. the number of individual, group, and family therapy sessions (hours) that take place per month;

7. regional office satisfaction with the services; and

8. client satisfaction.

REFERENCES

DCF Licensing Unit website, Licensing Category: Child Care Facility http://www.ct.gov/dcf/cwp/view.asp?a=2567&Q=431978&pp=12&n=1, last visited August 12, 2014.

DCF August 4, 2011 report, Congregate Care Rightsizing and Redesign: Young Children, Voluntary Placements and a Profile of Therapeutic Group Homes http://www.ct.gov/dcf/lib/dcf/latestnews/pdf/cc_right_sizing_report__young_children_and_voluntary_placements_8_4_11.pdf, last visited August 11, 2014.

DCF July 22, 2014 presentation, Next Steps in Developing a Community-Based, Culturally-Competent Service System, http://www.ct.gov/dcf/lib/dcf/agency/muniz/statewide_provider_meeting_(7-22-14).pdf, last visited August 12, 2014.

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