Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Child services ignored cases of children who were abused by fathers (Connecticut)

Such an interesting "coincidence" that the agency ignored the abusive fathers--until the children were killed or seriously injured.

Jon Lender: DCF Probes Handling Of Abuse Cases By Employees

December 14, 2013|Jon Lender, Government Watch

Two tragic cases of child abuse in recent months have prompted state Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz to pen an unusual memo expressing concern about "some less than stellar performances" by DCF personnel.

Asked about the Nov. 1 memo to DCF's 3,000 employees, the department said Thursday that an unspecified number of workers now are subjects of internal investigations that potentially could bring disciplinary action in the cases of:

--a 1 ½-year-old boy who died violently in Danbury on Sept. 29, allegedly at the hands of his father, who had been investigated for possible child abuse of the baby 16 months earlier. The father, Christian Williams, is charged with first-degree manslaughter.

--a 5-year-old Bridgeport boy who was found during a July 16 dental examination to have a split lip, teeth missing and loose, and scars "too numerous to count" covering his body, authorities said. Neighbors had reported concerns to DCF in June that he was being abused. The boy's father, Daquon Gomillion, was charged in September with first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor. Authorities say the boy had been struck by an extension cord. The boy's mother, Jarelis Lugo, was charged in November with risk of injury; police said she knew of the abuse but never reported it.

"There are two human resources investigations that are ongoing related to the death of a child in Danbury and the serious physical abuse of a child in Bridgeport,"

DCF said in a statement. "No discipline has been imposed at this time." But it hasn't been ruled out, depending what the inquiry reveals. DCF's statement came in response to questions about the Nov. 1 email, obtained by Government Watch, that Katz sent to her department employees who have the difficult job of helping families in distress and children who are neglected or abused.

About 1,000 of DCF's employees are front-line social workers.

Tragedies can occur even when a DCF worker does everything right. Katz has repeatedly said that although DCF workers live in fear of being thrown under the bus when things go wrong, she won't "scapegoat" them so long as they "follow the policies" and "take educated risks."

But now come tragic cases in which Katz says things weren't don't right. In a lengthy email to staff last month, Katz addressed the current situation at her department under the under the subject heading "Expectations."

"When I first became commissioner, I travelled to each office and promised every employee that if staff did what was expected pursuant to our standards, rules and protocol, and a tragedy occurred nonetheless, I would not scapegoat anyone and would proudly and publicly stand up for the agency and its dedicated workers.

"I also expressed my views that every such case would also present an educational opportunity and that we as a agency would examine our work through the lens of a learning organization to consider what changes we should make, what system barriers we should address, and which partners we could enlist to help.

"I also expressed my deepest gratitude for the work and appreciation for the many committed workers who, no doubt, experience their own sense of loss and grief each time a tragedy occurs. Together, we have made enormous progress. Our many new initiatives have changed the way we do business, and our families are the beneficiaries. Happily, these changes have moved the needle in many areas, and we have not seen the negative attendant consequences that some feared.