A federal audit of the state’s child welfare agency has found that nearly 3,000 high needs children may have been put at risk, as the Connecticut Department of Children and Families couldn’t prove it conducted background checks on the majority of foster and adoptive families where children were sent to live.

The audit — which spanned October 2008 to September 2010 — found that of the 291 cases reviewed, the agency responsible for the state’s abused and neglected children did not have the background checks documented for 185 adoptive families. 

“The safety of an estimated 2,862 children may have been at risk,” reads the audit released last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. 

Cited lapses in the 20-page report include a known drug dealer living in the home of an adopted child. In another case, a woman lived with an adopted child despite having a history of medically neglecting another child.

The lack of proper, documented background checks is not a new one for the state agency. In the most recent reviews of their opperations from July 2006 to June 2010, Connecticut’s State Auditors of Public Accounts have pointed out this same problem.

While not DCF commissioner during the time audited, Joette Katz told federal auditors in September that the issues would be resolved. “We have reviewed the draft recommendations and understand the issues you have identified. We will resolve all outstanding issues,” Katz wrote.

Katz told the Associated Press last week that the background checks were in fact conducted, and most of the missing records were located after the audit was completed.

“The current administration has implemented changes to address the causes for the issues identified by the audit,” Katz told the AP, adding that documentation regarding adoptions is now maintained electronically in a centralized data system. “There is every indication that although not all records regarding background checks were found, background checks were in fact conducted.”

Meanwhile, the federal auditors are recommending that DCF reimburse the federal government $17.5 million for payments the agency was not authorized to receive without proper documentation.

The next state audit is not slated to be released until 2015.


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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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