Special Efforts Being Made in Connecticut to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities


State Administration


July 08, 2018-Like all child welfare agencies throughout the country, Connecticut's Department of Children and Families has very difficult work and tremendous challenges, made even more difficult lately by national immigration policies and the opioid crisis. But despite setbacks and tragedies - to which no state is immune - Connecticut has emerged as a national model according to experts in the field, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Harvard Kennedy School and child welfare leaders from around the country.

Connecticut adopted the Strengthening Families practice model, which has family engagement at its foundation. By establishing a working partnership with families, caseworkers are better able to provide vital services and supports, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment. By including relatives and noncustodial parents in that engagement, they also ensure that both the child’s and the family’s voices are heard throughout every stage of the child welfare process. [Recommendations 2.1, 7.1]

In 2016, DCF sought to improve its response to families with children under the age of five through implementation of a comprehensive “Early Childhood Practice Guide” for social workers. The guide will help social workers develop specialized assessments and services targeted to the heightened vulnerabilities of these very young children. National and local research demonstrates that children under the age of three and, in particular, infants six month old or younger, are the most likely to die as a result of abuse or neglect. The guide’s implementation will increase awareness of risks of abuse and neglect on this most vulnerable population. The guide was developed by local subject matter experts from DCF and the Office of Early Childhood, and a number of other early childhood partners .  [Recommendations 7.1, 7.3]

Connecticut has been using data to identify children and families most at risk of a maltreatment fatality. In 2015, DCF released a study of child fatalities occurring over a 10-year period that showed several factors correlated with increased risk to children, including being under 6 months of age, the sleep environment, and parental mental health. The state’s safe sleep public health campaign as well as new requirements for social workers to educate parents with children under age 1 during home visits emanated from that study. The Department’s Office of Research and Evaluation, which conducted this study, also has and continues to produce a multitude of data reports to improve child protection work and has published much of this data on a Department webpage called “DCF Data Connect.”  [Recommendation 2.1]

Connecticut is working with Eckerd Kids to implement Eckerd Rapid Safety Feedback®, a real-time data analytics tool to flag high-risk child welfare cases for intensive monitoring and caseworker coaching. For more information, see . [Recommendation 2.1]