January 14, 2011
QUESTIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES (DCF) COMMISSIONER NOMINEE
By: Judith Lohman, Assistant Director
COMMISSIONER OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES (CGS §§ 17A-5 AND 17A-6)
The commissioner is responsible for establishing facilities and services for children and families under its care. These include child protective, foster care, and family services; juvenile justice services; substance abuse and related services; mental health services; and prevention and educational services.
QUESTIONS CONCERNING AGENCY ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTIONS
1. What do you see as DCF's strengths and weaknesses? What leadership and management skills do you bring to this position that will enable you to maximize those strengths and transform those weaknesses?
2. DCF is one of the largest state agencies, with a budget that exceeds $800 million and more than 3,100 employees. Given the severity of the fiscal crisis facing the state, what actions will you take to reduce costs or generate revenue in the coming years?
3. DCF is responsible for protecting children from abuse and neglect, treating their mental illnesses, and helping them when they engage in destructive behavior while protecting society at the same time. Is this too broad a range of responsibilities? Do you think the state could better meet these responsibilities by transferring one or more of them to other agencies? How should the DCF be organized to accomplish all these goals?
4. What has DCF learned from the legislative results-based accountability (RBA) initiative? How will you incorporate the RBA process into the agency's operations? How do you plan to evaluate agency programs?
QUESTIONS REGARDING AGENCY PROGRAMS AND SERVICE DELIVERY
1. What can DCF do to prevent child abuse and juvenile delinquency? How much of your resources can you reasonably devote to prevention?
2. Philosophically, where do you fall along the continuum between child safety first and family preservation?
3. What is the status of DCF's plan to establish a secure facility for girls? Do you think such a facility is needed? How will such a facility address the unique needs of female delinquents?
4. What do you think of the potential privatization of services currently provided at Riverview Hospital for Children and Youth?
5. Do you have a plan and a timetable for reducing out-of-state placements? What is the status of DCF's implementation of the performance-based incentive system for residential treatment providers authorized by the legislature in 2010?
6. The Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes recommended (1) reducing the average length of service provided by the Intensive Family Preservation program to prevent foster placements and save money, and (2) expanding the Intensive In-Home Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services program to prevent expensive inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations. Are you in favor of expanding these programs to more families or clients? Do you think expanding them would save the state money?
7. DCF has been working on a plan for a “differential response” (DR) to child abuse in which less severe cases are referred to community groups for services while DCF handles more difficult cases. What is the status of the DR plan? Has a Request for Proposals been developed? If not, why not?
8. Last September, the federal court rejected both the state's motion to vacate the Juan F. v. Rell consent decree and its revised exit plan. What steps will you take to meet the requirements of the consent decree? What is your timetable for doing so?
9. What steps will you take to address the shortage of foster parents and the negative relationship between agency staff and foster parents?
10. In a July 2010 report, the attorney general and the child advocate found that schools are not reporting child abuse and neglect cases in a timely manners and not adequately screening employees through DCF's child abuse and neglect registry. The attorney general cited “a maze of miscommunication” and inadequate training in reporting requirements and procedures. Do you agree that school reporting and employee training is inadequate? How can you work with the State Department of Education to address the situation?