Detailed Timeline Of The Juan F. Consent Decree; State Files Motion To End 20 Years Of Federal Court Rule
The following is a detailed timeline in the Juan F. consent decree in the 20-year-old case of Juan F. vs. the state. This is a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of abused and neglected children that dates back to the days of Gov. William A. O’Neill.
The case has continued under Governors Lowell P. Weicker, John G. Rowland, and M. Jodi Rell. On Tuesday, the state filed an unprecedented motion in federal court to end federal oversight, saying that the state has improved the system to the point that federal oversight is no longer needed.
Lasting just as long as another famous court contest, the Juan F. case is the Sheff vs. O’Neill battle of the child welfare system.
The Hartford Courant’s chief researcher, Tina Bachetti, compiled this timeline.
December 1989: Suit filed
The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Children’s Rights Project file a class-action lawsuit against Gov. William O’Neill and the state Department of Children and Youth Services. The suit charges that an overworked and underfunded DCYS fails to provide services including abuse and neglect investigations, adoption, foster care, mental health care, caseloads and staffing.
January 1991: Decree signed
Lawyers for the children and the state sign a formal federal consent decree, known as the “Juan F.” consent decree, after one of the child plaintiffs. Sweeping changes are called for, including the establishment of a training academy for DCYS employees and foster parents; reducing caseloads for workers, who average 34 cases each; uniform standards on how abuse and neglect cases should be handled; and an independent court monitor to assess progress.
March 1993: Out of compliance
Budget cuts of more than $8.7 million at DCYS results in noncompliance with the decree in terms of staffing, payments to foster parents and program improvements.
June 1993: Judge orders staff increase
U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas orders DCF to hire more staff to reduce caseloads and to increase payments to foster parents. (Also that year, the department changes its name to the Department of Children and Families.)
February 1995: Problems reported
Federal monitor reports caseloads continue to be a problem.
March 1995: Investigation ordered
Gov. John G. Rowland demands an investigation of DCF after 9-month-old Emily Hernandez is raped and murdered by her mother’s live-in boyfriend and 16-month-old Candy Fortis is killed by her father. After reviewing thousands of files at DCF, state officials remove more than 100 children from their parents’ custody and put them in foster care.
February 1996: Problems reported
Monitor reports DCF not meeting caseload standards.
This case is important and relevant to my argument which will follow- I just hope I am right…