Connecticut’s failure to retain more foster parents in the state’s child welfare system has set back progress for children removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Connecticut has lost more foster parents in recent years than it has recruited, causing the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to fall far short of target goals established in a federal court settlement. Surveys of foster parents who have left the DCF system indicate that a significant number of these parents felt they were not adequately supported or respected by DCF. The report makes several recommendations for reform in order to improve communication with and involvement of foster parents. Among the findings of the report:
- As part of a federal court settlement, DCF agreed in 2008 to add 850 family foster homes by June 2010. However, by June of last year, DCF had achieved a net gain of only 342 foster homes. Furthermore during the last six months of 2010, DCF experienced a net loss of 458 homes, for a total net loss of 116 homes since June 2008.
- Surveys of foster parents who left the foster care system found that significant numbers did not feel sufficiently informed about, supported in, or involved with decisions about the children in their care. Responses to the surveys, conducted for DCF by the Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents (CAFAP), indicate that many parents felt that DCF did not help them to “access resources for the child after placement” (25%), did not sufficiently inform them of the child’s needs at the time of placement (33%), and did not include the parents and consider their experience in making decisions about children in their care (28%).