With more than 90,000 people listed on the state’s child abuse and neglect registry for allegations made against them at least 14 years ago, the state may finally create a process for people to get their name removed.
A bill passed Thursday night by the House and sent to the Senate drew strong statements of support, and criticism, from legislators.
“I think this is a true crime against our children,” said Rep. Christie Carpino, R-Cromwell.
What does the bill do?
Employers often check this list as part of a background check of someone applying for a job if the position includes working with children. It also is used when determining if someone is eligible to take in foster children.
Rep. Gerald Fox III, the House chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said that throughout the years, people “would be placed on the registry for almost anything,” and that “there is no real mechanism in which someone can get their name removed.”
This bill changes that by requiring the agency that oversees this registry — the state Department of Children and Families — to provide those on the registry with a process to apply to have their name removed 10 years after the agency had investigated and substantiated they had abused or neglected a child. Before 2000, someone accused of abusing or neglecting a child was not offered the chance to prove their innocence, or even notified that their name was being put on the list.
The decision to remove someone will be determined by the DCF commissioner, granted they show “good cause” and “a bona fide need.”
Fox said it’s unfair to keep many of the people that were put on the list decades ago.
“Their lives are still impacted despite they are not a threat to anybody,” he said on the House floor.
What does the bill not do?
The names of people on the registry will not be automatically or guaranteed to be removed.
People whose name is also on a sex offender registry will not be eligible to have their name removed. The bill would not make DCF’s abuse and neglect registry public.
Those whose names are on the registry and are seeking jobs that require a background check or people who are seeking to take in a foster child.
But opponents say it will hurt children the most.
“We don’t want one person slipping, slipping through,” John Cattelan, who is with the Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs, a group that represents 23 YMCAs throughout the state, told legislators during a public hearing in March.
What started it?
This legislation has been supported by DCF Commissioner Joette Katz for the last several years. A lawyer, and a former state Supreme Court justice, Katz has said too many people were put on this list decades ago without any due process to object or appeal a single social worker’s decision.
Fox said that without a formal process to get their name of the registry, people throughout the years have had to figure out “creative” ways to get off the list. An official with the department said that over the last decade, fewer than a dozen people have succeeded in getting their name removed.
Now that the House has passed the bill, the legislation now awaits action in the Senate. It is unclear if they will take action in the remaining six days of the legislative session.