DCF: About DCF


A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I J - K L M - N - O - P - R - S - T - U V Y - W ________________________________________________________

"Healthy, Safe, Smart and Strong"


  • USD #2  (Unified School District #2)

The Department has five Mandated Areas:

  • Child welfare
  • Children's behavioral health
  • Education
  • Juvenile Services
  • Prevention
The Department operates four facilities, including the Albert J. Solnit Children's Psychiatric Center - North Campus in East Windsor and the South Campus in Middletown, the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown, and the Wilderness School in East Hartland.
The Department also consists of a Central Office and 14 Area Offices that are organized into five regions.
At any point in time, the Department serves approximately 36,000 children and 16,000 families across its programs and mandate areas each year.

Average number of full-time employees- 3247

Recurring Operational Expenses - $807,655,195


How Much?

In Context

Careline calls

and reports

The Careline received approximately 93,000 calls in State Fiscal Year 2010.  These included over 45,000 reports of suspected abuse or neglect, of which over 24,500 were accepted for investigation.

 Approximately 6,800 reports were substantiated.

Intact families receiving services

As of March 2011, the Department provides treatment services to approximately 3,875 families whose children remain safely at home after an investigation of neglect or abuse.

The number of families whose children live at home and receive Department services has grown by 37 percent since 2002.

Abused and neglected children in care

Approximately 5,000 children in the Department’s custody receive services

 because of abuse/neglect.

The number of children in state care has declined 18 percent since 2004 and 28 percent since 2000.


DCF Overview

Working together with families and communities to improve child safety, ensure that more children have permanent families, and advance the overall well-being of children is the central focus of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF protects children who are being abused or neglected, strengthens families through support and advocacy, and builds on existing family and community strengths to help children who are facing emotional and behavioral challenges, including those committed to the Department by the juvenile justice system.

DCF, established under Section 17a-2 of the Connecticut General Statutes, is one of the nation’s few agencies to offer child protection, behavioral health, juvenile justice and prevention services. This comprehensive approach enables DCF to offer quality services regardless of how a child's problems arise. Whether children are abused and/or neglected, are involved in the juvenile justice system, or have emotional, mental health or substance abuse issues, the Department can respond to these children in a way that draws upon community and state resources to help.

DCF recognizes the importance of family and strives to support children in their homes and communities. When this is not possible, a placement that meets the child’s individualized needs in the least restrictive setting is pursued. When services are provided out of the child’s home, whether in foster care, residential treatment or in a DCF facility, they are designed to return children safely and permanently back to the community.

DCF supports in-home and community-based services through contracts with service providers. In addition, the Department runs four facilities: a secure facility for boys who are committed to the Department as delinquents by the juvenile courts (the Connecticut Juvenile Training School); a children’s psychiatric hospital (Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center, North Campus in East Windsor and South Campus in Middletown) and an experiential program for troubled youth in Connecticut (the Wilderness School).

Contacting DCF To Report Child Abuse and/or Neglect call the Careline:  1-800-842-2288

If you have a question related to the child for whom you are caring, you should start with the child's social worker.  If you are unable to reach the social worker or to resolve the situation to your satisfaction with the social worker, you should call the worker's supervisor.  If problems are still unresolved, you should contact the supervisor's manager, their office director or other senior manager as follows:

  • Social Worker (SW)
  • Social Work Supervisor (SWS)
  • Program Manager (PM)
  • Office Director
  • Regional Administrator
  • Commissioner

If your contact with the DCF area office does not result in a resolution to your question or situation, please contact the DCF Ombudsman's Office at 860-550-6301.

Adolescent Services assist youth under the care of DCF to make the transition from out of home care to a self-sufficient, productive life as an adult in the community. Adolescent Specialists provide specialized case management services, monitoring and support services through a variety of programs.

Careline is open 24 hrs/7 days a week to receive calls from people with questions, concerns, and reports of child abuse and neglect.  The Careline also provides evening, weekend, and holiday investigation responses to immediate situations concerning abuse and neglect of children.  In addition, the Special Investigation Unit investigates reports of abuse and neglect of children in residential care facilities.  Careline staff is available to provide information to the community and professionals.  The Careline is also available to employers in need of child protective services background checks. 

CONTACT:   Dakibu Muléy MS, LMSW, Director of Careline Operations, 860-560-7000

Child Protective Services primarily carries out DCF’s mandate and responsibility to investigate all reports of alleged child maltreatment and to provide services to all children found to be in such a condition. There are 14 regional offices located throughout Connecticut (go to DCF Offices).  A variety of wrap around services are provided to children in their homes as well as children in temporary and permanent placements (such as foster care, youth shelters, residential facilities, group homes, pre-adoptive homes, etc.).  Voluntary Services offers support to families who contact the agency and meet the requirements.  In order to best serve families with multiple needs, DCF contracts with numerous agencies to provide services such as, psychiatric/psychological/therapeutic, anger management, parenting classes, parent aides, domestic violence, substance abuse, family preservation and reunification.  All of these services are prepared to meet the needs of people of all ethnic/cultural backgrounds and are able to provide services in various languages.

Exit Plan/Positive Outcomes for Children:  The Department of Children and Families is currently making improvements to the the quality of its services and working to end a Federal Court’s oversight of the agency under a Consent Decree entered into by the State in 1991. This plan, also known as the Exit Plan or the Positive Outcomes for Children Plan, includes 22 goals to improve child safety, permanency and well-being. As many as 17 of the goals have been attained in quarterly measures of these outcomes. 

Foster and Adoption Services are responsible for the coordination, planning, and implementation of foster care and adoption initiatives statewide.  On any given day there are 3,500 children in out of home care.  Some of the children are hard to place due to their special medical needs and/or need for a home that will take a sibling group.  Therefore, foster and adoption staff provide ongoing recruitment efforts ( Open Houses ), home assessments, training and licensing, and support services of foster care and adoptive parents.  Specialized recruitment is also provided through this Office of Foster and Adoption Services.  This office is also responsible for out of state inquires and maintains a photo listing of all available children currently awaiting adoption. Follow this link to learn more at the Foster and Adoption website.

Juvenile Services seek to develop competency, accountability, and responsibility in all programs and services through the Balanced and Restorative Justice model (BARJ) – with the ultimate goal of each child achieving success in the community. Juvenile services offer programming through community-based services, private residential treatment, and state-operated facilities. Juvenile services collaborate with community providers, public and private agencies, families and educational agencies to individualize the treatment for each child based on the child’s strengths, culture and ethnicity, and gender, while maintaining community safety.

Mental Health Services DCF has statutory authority to provide for children's mental health services.  The Department operates the Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center - North Campus in East Windsor and the  Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center - South Campus in Middletown.  Through Connecticut Community KidCare, the department also provides funding for a broad array of clinical and other services in the community, including Child Guidance Clinics, Extended Day Treatment Programs, Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services, Respite Care, Family Advocacy and Intensive Case Management.

Children and families can access state-operated or state-funded community services directly or through referrals from providers in the mental health system. Services are provided on a sliding scale, and the majority of service providers are affiliated with a variety of health insurance plans.

Medical Health and Wellbeing Services is responsible for assuring that children in its care and custody receive optimal health care.  The administration of health care is overseen centrally and carried out at the regional level through resource staff including a pediatrician, psychiatrist, registered nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners.  Health care standards, policies, procedures and programs are developed and implemented in accordance with the criteria established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, various federal mandates, state statutes and guidelines.  Case specific medical consultation is provided to DCF facilities, nursing, medical and social work staff on the medical care of children in care and custody of the Department.

Substance Use Services are provided to children and families in a variety of contexts.  In addition to services provided in DCF facilities, the department funds substance use prevention, intervention and treatment services in the community.  These treatment services include the following: home based, outpatient and residential treatment services for youth; immediate access for drug testing, evaluations and outpatient substance abuse treatment is available to primary caregivers involved in the department's child protective services through a DCF contract with a managed statewide network of substance use providers ( Project SAFE ); Supportive Housing for Families ( SHF Referral ); Substance Abuse Families at Risk (SAFAR). The Substance Use Division emphasizes the use of evidence based treatment models.

In addition, Substance use Specialists are part of Regional Resource Groups (RRG's) in each of the Department's area offices, providing consultation, assessment, coordination and training on substance abuse issues to enable DCF social workers to better serve families. 

Voluntary Services is a DCF operated program for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances, mental illnesses and/or substance dependency. This program is only for families who are not abusive or neglectful. Voluntary services emphasizes a community-based approach and attempts to coordinate service delivery across multiple agencies.  At the foundation of this program is the requirement that parents and families are involved in the planning and delivery of services to their child or youth. Voluntary Services reduces reliance on restrictive forms of treatment and out-of-home placement and ultimately, promotes positive development.

Voluntary Services Program Referrals: All referrals are made to the DCF Child Abuse and Neglect  Hotline ( 1-800-842-2288 ). The Hotline then forwards the information to the appropriate regional office for follow-up. Examples of who may suggest voluntary services include:

  • An investigator who has gone to the home and has not substantiated abuse or neglect;
  • Clinicians, psychiatric hospitals and schools;
  • Other clients; and
  • Juvenile court .

A child or youth and his/her parents must make the actual referral themselves.  Eligibility Criteria: A child or youth is eligible for voluntary services if:

  • The child or youth has a serious emotional or behavioral disorder.
  • The child or youth has an emotional disturbance and/or is substance dependent.
  • The child or youth’s treatment needs cannot be met through existing services available to the parent or guardian.
  • The child or youth’s disorder or disturbance can be treated within a reasonable time and within the resources available to the department at the time of application.
  • The child or youth has not reached the age of eighteen at the time of the referral.

A child or youth is not eligible for the program if:

  • The family of a child or youth has an active child protective services case with the department or is the subject of an investigation by the department because of an allegation of child abuse or neglect.
  • The child or youth’s primary diagnosis is mental retardation.
  • The child or youth has been arrested under the adult criminal system.
  • The child or youth requires placement because of special education needs.

Voluntary Services Available: Each region offers an array of services as part of this program. (Not all of the services listed are appropriate for every family.)

  • Intensive family preservation: A 10-12 week service in which a worker meets with the family two times a week and is available by beeper 24 hours a day.
  • After-care services: Services intended to help the family with a child or youth’s transition to the home after he/she is released from a residential facility.
  • Mentor services (support counselors)
  • In-home therapist (support specialists)
  • Intensive Behavior Management Training
  • Respite program: A worker goes to the home and spends time with the child or youth, allowing the parents some free time to address other demands or issues.
  • Extended Day Treatment Services
  • Out-of-Home Treatment

A child admitted into voluntary services is eligible for out-of-home placement if:

  • Documented attempts, such as in-home services and intensive outpatient care, have been unable to remediate the child or youth’s impairment.
  • An appropriate department-approved treatment program or facility is available.
  • The parent-child relationship will be maintained during and after implementation of the service plan.
  • There is an expectation that the child or youth will return to the family when the service plan is completed.

How to acquire Voluntary Services:

  • A family has sixty days to submit a completed application; the assigned DCF staff assists the family in completing the application. The assigned DCF staff has two weeks, once the application has been submitted, to determine eligibility.
  • Within one hundred and twenty days (4 months) after admitting a child or youth on a voluntary basis, DCF will petition the probate court for a determination as to whether continuation in the program is in the child’s best interest and, if so, if the individual care plan is appropriate. A probate court hearing must be held within 60 days of the petition (180 days after admission into the program).
  • No more than twelve months after a child or youth is admitted, the Commissioner will file a motion with the probate court requesting a hearing on the status of the child or youth.
  • The case closes when the initial goals established for the family and child or youth are met. This decision should be mutual between the family and the assigned DCF staff. Conflicts that cannot be resolved can be brought before the probate court.
  • The child or youth and family may be terminated from the program if they do not cooperate with the service plan or if the child or youth no longer benefits from the program

Wilderness School:  DCF runs the Wilderness School in East Hartland that provides a therapeutic wilderness challenge program for male and female adolescents who exhibit unacceptable behavior or have family difficulties. The program is designed to teach self-reliance and responsibility as well as to improve self-esteem. Evaluations have demonstrated that program graduates show improved self-concept and social functioning, and are less likely to break the law or be involved with drugs or alcohol.

The Wilderness School serves Connecticut adolescents between the ages of 13 and 16 who are referred by DCF social workers, school systems, youth service bureaus, counseling agencies, residential programs and other youth-serving agencies. The youngster must choose to attend. Applicants with histories of sexual offense, violent offense, or psychological or medical conditions that might pose problems on the course are assessed for appropriateness.

The Wilderness Challenge is a 20-day outdoor adventure program based on the American Outward Bound Schools’ model. Students participate in group activities, backpacking, rock climbing, service project or trail maintenance, a solo experience, and an 8.5-mile marathon. The program is a three-phase experience that closely involves the agency that has referred the youth. The phases include: orientation, which helps referring agencies identify and prepare students for the program; the 20-day wilderness challenge; and follow-up, which helps transfer the student’s positive learning experiences from the course to his or her home, school and community.

For further information, contact the Wilderness School at 860-653-8059.


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Content Last Modified on 2/10/2016 2:06:06 PM