U.S. District Court Judge Christopher F. Droney decided Wednesday afternoon to keep the federal oversight of Connecticut’s child welfare agency in place.

In his order following Wednesday morning’s arguments, Droney said the “substantial progress the state has made to better fund, staff and operate DCF is to be commended, but it does not make continuing enforcement by this Court of the Exit Plan unworkable or inequitable.”

The exit plan and criteria the Department of Children and Families must meet is the product of negotiations between it and the child advocacy agencies involved in the case.

“It is also important to note, though, that the state has made considerable progress in achieving the goals of the consent decree, and it is to be commended for that effort. The end may very well be in sight,” Droney wrote.

Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who sought to end federal oversight, said “The state is committed to continuing the significant improvements made over the past two decades in services for children and their families, regardless of the ultimate outcome of this legal process.“

“We must never settle for anything less than the best for the children in our care,” Rell added in a statement following Droney’s decision.