The speakers did not talk only about funding. Several criticized what some view as DCF’s lack of openness about child deaths — and policies that may contribute to them. Some accused agency administrators and lawmakers of a lack of urgency.
Pat McCabe, a foster parent, took off work early from his job to attend to the hearing. In an emotional speech, he challenged the legislators to feel as angry as he did. “I am here to represent the outrage,’’ said McCabe, who along with his wife foster three children. “There is no excuse as to what has happened. There is a lack of funding and a lack of accountability.’’
Jeannette Miley, who has spent more than 30 years treating disabled children at the Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center, which serves disabled children, said her program has been frustrated by DCF lawyers who insist they lack the authority to remove children from abusive or neglectful parents — including children who became disabled due to their mother’s drug addiction.
“We’ve got a criminal history for the father; we’ve got a criminal history for the mother; and the baby is born addicted,” Miley said. “Should we protect the child, or give the parents another chance?” she asked.
Investigators should give parents another chance, Miley said, but only “when the child has been safely removed.”
As the number of deaths escalated, Jacobo ordered a review of all child fatalities cause by abuse or neglect and invited a national organization to scrutinize those findings.
“We are getting help with examining what may have gone wrong,’’ she said. “The more eyes on a child, the better the decisions are, the better decisions we can make.”