The legislature’s Human Services Committee will hold an informational meeting Wednesday to discuss the Department of Children and Families handling and removal of abused and neglected children from unfit homes.
The committee organized the forum following the publicized arrest of a Torrington couple last month.
In July, after finding Mark Johnson passed out on the floor with the hungry children unattended to and living in unsanitary conditions Torrington Police called the DCF hotline and were left on hold for 30 minutes. When DCF responded they determined it was okay for the children to return home. Johnson and Erica Shaw were arrested two days later and the children, ages 4 months to 5 years, were placed in DCF custody.
“Media accounts of how DCF handled this particular case are disturbing,” Sen. Rob Kane, the ranking Republican on the committee, said. “Legislators and the public need, and deserve, information beyond what has been reported, and it is our hope that the people we invite to speak at our forum will provide those answers.”
If the Torrington Police were really put on hold for 30 minutes it’s “inexcusable,” Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville, said. “There have been several tragic situations across Connecticut and I want to make sure they are being handled in the best interest of the children.”
The legislature’s Human Services Committee has cognizance over the Department of Children and Families.
“It’s the responsibility of DCF to protect the children most at risk in Connecticut,” said Rep. Michelle Cook, D-Torrington. “In light of several cases involving young children, I have questions on what policies and procedures are in place, and which are being followed.”
“The legislature is concerned that the proper procedures are being consistently followed in these types of cases,” Rep. Toni Walker, co-chairwoman of the committee, said. “It is hard for the public to understand how children get the protection they need in a timely manner when they are clearly at risk of injury or neglect.”
The legal staff from the Department of Children and Families will talk about its policies and procedures at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25. The informational hearing will be held in the Legislative Office Building in room 2C.