Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Joette Katz today announced that Connecticut is among seven states selected by the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and Casey Family Programs to participate in the Three Branch Institute on Child Social and Emotional Well-Being to improve the welfare of children in foster care throughout the United States.
"Since taking office, we've made significant strides to improve Connecticut's foster care system, keep families together and reduce the number of children in state care by almost 16 percent," Governor Malloy said. "Participating in this initiative will allow us to learn best practices from other Institute members and build on the work we are already doing to ensure stability for our state's youngest and, many times, most vulnerable residents and their families."
The goal of the Three Branch Institute is to improve the social and emotional well-being of children in foster care in participating states by facilitating more effective coordination between the work of the state executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. With ongoing technical assistance and support from national experts at the Three Branch Institute, leaders from Connecticut's three branches of government will be assigned to develop and implement a coordinated, state-specific plan of action to measure the well-being of youth in state foster care and improve existing child welfare services through better collaboration and by leveraging Medicaid and other federal and state dollars to fund innovative best practices.
Governor Malloy has selected Commissioner Katz and DSS Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby to serve as the Executive Branch project members. The Chief Court Administrator will designate representatives from the Judiciary who preside over juvenile matters. The Senate President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House will also appoint members of the legislature to the project.
Since 2011, Connecticut has seen a 15.8 percent reduction in children in state care and an 85 percent reduction in children placed out of state. In addition, children in care are 53 percent more likely to be living with a relative or other person they know and 22.9 percent less likely to be in congregate care. Under the leadership of Commissioner Katz, Governor Malloy said the state's priorities are to further reduce the number of children in foster care, keep families unified and stable, and promote long-term self-sufficiency through increased access to supportive services from DCF, the Department of Social Services (DSS) and other human service agencies.
"Children do best in their families and so by promoting family self-sufficiency, we promote child well-being," Commissioner Katz said. "At the same time, many families involved with DCF also are involved with the courts and receiving services from other state agencies, such as DSS or the departments of mental health and addiction services, developmental services, and labor. Families served by DCF have complex needs that exceed the scope of services of any one agency or branch of government, so integrating our work is critically important."
In addition to Connecticut, other states chosen to participate in the Three Branch Institute include Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. NGA will convene a two-day meeting and provide on-going, customized support and on-site consultations in conjunction with the NCSL, Casey Family Programs, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and National Council of State Courts. The NGA and NCSL will sponsor Connecticut's full participation in the Three Branch Institute which will take place in July 2013.
To learn more about NGA's Economic, Human Services and Workforce Division, please visit www.nga.org/cms/center/ehsw.