Skip to main content

Ablechild Opens Legislative Session in CT on Foster Care Reform

Ablechild Opens 2012 legislative Session in Connecticut Testifying before the Select Committee on Children Regarding Foster Care Reform

On February 28, 2012 Ablechild appeared before the Select Committee on Children to Oppose Bill 5217 as Written.

It was a disappointment to see the new DCF Commissioner, Joette Katz, efforts fall short presenting bill 5217 to the committee for “technical” changes requesting the name of the embattled State run psychiatric ward, “Riverview” to be changed rather than present a bill to reform the Child Welfare System. What does a name change do? The Commissioner’s efforts can be liken to rearranging the deck chairs on a leaking ship.

Diane Sawyer’s one year long investigative report into the National problem of psychiatric drugging of children within Foster Care that aired on November 30, 2011, actually included pieces from the State of Connecticut’s DCF System supplied to ABC by

Ablechild supplied ABC’s 20/20 Diane Sawyer investigation with the Pharmacy Report from “Riverview” State psychiatric ward. In addition, we would like to point out the annual budget of $29,766,625,000 for psychiatric services for Connecticut DCF. How anyone can go before this committee and present factual data that children don’t have access to psychiatric services or request a “technical change” in current policies should be forced to look at this number and explain where the money is going and how a “technical change” will solve the harmful and expensive approach to taking care of and protecting children.

While we were waiting to testify, It was amazing to sit and listen to testimony on S.B. 156, a request concerning sibling visitation for children in the care and custody of the Commissioner. The discussion circled to who would pay for the transportation to ensure the child could make the visits, thinking of that $29,766,625.00 maybe a limo by DCF? Ablechild was compelled to support S.B. 156 after listening to the DCF victims of sibling break ups when placed into DCF custody. We thought it was disheartening to hear one of the committee members point out to a sibling testifying for visitation rights that they were lucky the Commissioner stayed to hear their testimony. We assumed it was to indicate that the Commissioner cared. We thought she was paid to do that, a pointless comment from a committee member that illustrates the lopsided power DCF seems to hold. Ablechild believes this power stems from good old fashion corruption involving behavioral vendors and drug companies. they seem to have an ability to run the legislative process.

Our recommendations during our testimony was to break up the behavioral health oversight committee that reports to the Governor. The oversight committee also makes policy recommendations to the Governor as well as to legislators which includes appropriations. Ablechild sits on that committee and our recommendations continue to fall on deaf, corrupt ears. Not surprised a “technical” name change for the ailing Riverview Psychiatric Ward is all the children get. We strongly recommend empowering and incorporating speech and language specialists within that committee that do not have “behavioral health contracts” with the State or connections with the drug companies, which includes non profit front groups. Split up the behavioral budget to focus on non-drug behavioral health solutions offered by non-drug company vendors. Incorporate the MEDWATCH reporting system as a requirement for this committee to ensure training and education on the Federal Adverse Drug Reporting system, which helps regulates drug safety.

Just a quick refresher flashback to October 20, 2008, testimony before this very same committee from then Attorney General Blumenthal. “if we want real reform at DCF — as we all do — we need a different approach. The General Assembly should mandate.

“A partial breakup of the agency, a complete overhaul of existing management, and the most important a comprehensive outside, objective review” The Attorney General went on to say, “The legislature should require recommended changes by dictating through its appropriations authority how funds are used, linking dollars to sweeping administrative reform.”

Everything this proposed bill doesn’t do.

The point the Attorney General drives home in his testimony in which agrees. “The agency cannot be both contractor and regulator.” Attorney General Blumenthal, “DCF must better perform in the best interest of children. Rearranging the deck chairs cannot right this leaking, listing ship.”

Ablechild recommends that calls be placed to the Select Committee on Children to opposed 5217 as written or incorporate recommendations. A name change just won’t protect children.

ABC 20/20, Attorney General Blumenthal, CT Commissioner Joette Katz, Diane Sawyer, Foster Care, Psychiatric, Riverview, Selection Committee on Children, Senator Blumenthal