Juan F.

Federal Court

September 22, 2010

COURT DENIES DCF MOTION TO VACATE CONSENT DECREE

In September, a federal court ruled that DCF may not be excused from the obligations of the Juan F. consent decree, a two decade old settlement that compels DCF to comply with a number of child welfare expectations on behalf of abused and neglected children. This past Spring DCF asked the federal court to vacate the Juan F. consent decree on the grounds that the agency has “transformed” its ability to meet the needs of the children in its custody. Lawyers for the Juan F.plaintiffs, along with advocates such as the Center for Children’s Advocacy and the Office of the Child Advocate, ,strongly objected to DCF’s request, contending that while the agency demonstrated some improved performance, it still failed to meet many children’s basic needs for medical and mental health services and placement with families. The Center for Children’s Advocacy filed a “friend of the court” brief asking the federal court to maintain its oversight of DCF’s compliance with the Juan F. outcome measures. The Center told the court numerous stories of clients who still bounce from placement to placement, are placed in out of state treatment centers, even small children that are left to languish in group homes while relatives wait to be licensed to take them home. The Center pointed out that DCF has failed to comply with obligations it undertook in just the past few years such as increasing the number of foster families so that the agency would not have to rely on inappropriate orphanage care for so many children. The Center’s brief underscored that according to the neutral federal court monitor’s office, DCF, even in early 2010, failed to meet the identified treatment needs of children fifty percent of the time. The Court agreed with the child advocates that the consent decree was still necessary to ensure state compliance with critical child welfare outcome measures. Accordingly, DCF’s request to be relieved of its obligations under the Juan F. consent decree was denied. The Court and the federal court monitor’s office will continue to play a critical role in ensuring the transparency and accountability of the Department of Children and Families.

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