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Nuts and Shells Pave Over Same Path in Connecticut Treatment of Traumatized Children in State Care.

Like a chilling novel, the Hartford Courant rolls out its latest article, ( seemingly in support of the billion dollar mental health system-supported and perpetually conflicted Connecticut Department of Children and Families (CT DCF). It does so in an attempt to pave over a road littered with child victims and torn apart by a system run by mental health vendors. The Hartford Courant’s article is prominently featured on the CT DFC homepage. Josh Kovner’s piece uses the long- effective but shallow attempt to fool his readers with the nut and shell game often seen on the streets of New York City. The hand is quicker than the eye, and your money is always lost. The winner is the guy moving the shells.

The piece opens with a story of a DCF family struggling to receive proper services from CT DCF but could not because of the misguided direction of the current system. However, just like in fairytales, magic happens, the system suddenly changes and all ends well for the family. Ironically, the timing couldn’t be better.

Kovner’s article ties the suffering family’s ordeal into the timing of multi-million dollar federal grant to increase the number of outpatient community clinics and rename the troubled state psychiatric ward from “Riverview” to the Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center, and the Connecticut Juvenile Training School. All this happens in one shell move.

Kovner writes, “Turns out her timing was good – the state Department of Children and Families, working with experts in childhood trauma, is using a multi-million dollar federal grant to increase from 16 to about 26 the number of outpatient community clinics that practice trauma-focused therapy, and to put it in play at DCF’s most difficult facilities, the former Riverview Children’s Hospital, reorganized as the Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center, and the Connecticut Juvenile Training School.”

Apparently, it turns out the entire system was screwed up because the kids weren’t screened for post-traumatic stress syndrome, just like a combat soldier would be.

The Courant’s blurred report includes the following: “the result is that the true source of child’s pain is often not addressed, and his symptoms – depression, aggression, withdrawal – are often misdiagnosed, said DCF psychologist Bert Plant.”

Really? DCF was failing to correctly diagnose post-traumatic stress in children? How could Dr. Plant and other DCF staff have missed this after all these years?

One only needs to look at the long history in this DCF Billion Dollar shell game. It seems as if DCF, in quiet partnership with mental health vendors, has long-mastered how to make the most money off of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens. (

Kovner’s article fails to address why 396 Medicaid-covered children under four (4) years old were prescribed dangerous psychotropic drugs in the first place? And even more incredibly, as Dr. Andres Martin, a child psychiatrist with Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, pointed out in an article eleven (11) years ago, that some of those medicated children were less than 1 year old. Perhaps Kovner, DCF and Dr. Plant should concern themselves with over-diagnosing children as opposed to their incredible concerns about under-diagnosing mental illness?

Exactly how long do we need to continue to watch the same old players move the shells around? After Ablechild’s recent testimony before the State legislature to block this “name change”, we would like to make it clear to Connecticut’s citizens, at no point was it publicly divulged that this “technical” name change would be tied to a multi-million dollar federal grant.

This shell game is not only costly, but it’s dangerous. Like the shell games on the streets of New York City, it is your money they are taking. Unlike the shell game, however, small children are exposed to risky drugs with very little potential benefit.

The DCF system is creating broken citizens and a cycle of endless victims. In 2001, the Associated Press reported that $5.8 million in State Medicaid money was spent each year on psychiatric drugs for children with State Insurance. Where are we today, wouldn’t you like to know? The shells get fancier, but the nuts remain the same.

Sheila Matthews