State Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein announced Tuesday she will be retiring in March after 28 years in state government. Her last 12 years were spent as the state’s third child advocate.

“It is with great pride and sadness that I announce that I will be stepping down from my position as the State’s Child Advocate,” she said in a press release. “This has been my life, my passion. I am so grateful and humbled to have served the children of Connecticut. I, along with my unbelievably talented and dedicated team, have fought hard for our children, particularly our most vulnerable and youngest citizens.”

During her tenure, Milstein chaired the Child Fatality Review Board and held the Department of Children and Families accountable for its failings including the management of juvenile justice facilities and placement of youth with mental health issues. 

Milstein said she worked hard to make sure that the office maintained the authority over its own budget proposals to the legislature when it was consolidated under the Office of Government Accountability last year. She said the Office of the Child Advocate’s work will continue but it’s important the office stays independent.

“The health and well-being of Connecticut’s children depends on the unique independence and authority of the OCA to help keep us all accountable to our next generation,” she said.

In a statement Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman praised Milstein’s commitment and dedication to protecting children.

“Her efforts ensured our children had a voice and a champion at the Capitol—and she raised the standards for ensuring the care and safety of Connecticut’s youngest residents,” they said. “Jeanne’s legacy at the Office of the Child Advocate is one of lasting protections for our young people, and her work will be missed.”
 
Martha Stone, founder and executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy in Hartford, said she’s really disappointed to learn of Milstein’s retirement.

“She’s been a great persistent advocate for a lot of years,” Stone said Tuesday. “She’s definitely going to be missed.”

With Shelley Geballe, no longer in charge of CT Voices for Children, and now Milstein, Stone, who worked closely with both women on children’s issues, said she feels like the last woman standing.

She said hopefully Malloy will appoint someone as “forceful, honest, and willing to hold state agencies accountable,” as Milstein.

Milstein became the Child Advocate in 2000. Since then she has overseen thousands of investigations into citizen concerns about state and state-funded programs for children. She also led the agency as it provided direct assistance to hundreds of children and families and reviewed state funded programs for children.

“Milstein has been a powerful spokesperson on issues affecting the well-being of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children, advocating for practice and policy changes to protect and promote their health and well- being,” the press release said.

Prior to becoming the child advocate, Milstein worked as the director of government relations for the Department of Children and Families. She also served as the legislative director for the Connecticut Commission for Children and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. Millstein served as the U.S. representative at the O8 Summit of Ombudspersons for Children from G-8 countrties in Nuoro, Italy in 2009.