DCF's annual budget, including its federal funding, is nearly one billion dollars.
DCF, as mentioned frequently, has a serious and important mission. But how much of its mission of child protection would be better directed to child welfare? Who is tracking individual examples of DCF waste? who is evaluating programs and determining if they are useful? who follows-up on complaints? who decides if a program should be replaced by one that will employ fewer people?
Budget Implications for Child Welfare
Can you imagine what a billion dollars would do for child welfare in Connecticut? No, we will never have perfection; that is unattainable and in some ways undesirable. But we could make significant improvements in the following areas:
1. Medical care for innocent children (and adults) who cannot afford it.
2. Dental care for innocent children (and adults) who cannot afford it.
3. Psychological care for innocent children (and adults) who cannot afford it.
4. Improved enforcement of child support orders, including finding and jailing offenders until they worked off their obligations, so that innocent children will receive their rightful funds.
5. Assistance for innocent children who need food and clothing, when their parents or guardians cannot or will not provide these.
6. An improved Big Brother/Big Sister program for innocent children who lack appropriate role models to help them develop into responsible adults.
7. Payments for legal services for innocent children (and indigent adults), that are above the lawyer-poverty level.
8. Improved child visitation facilities, so that parents would not be limited to 1-2 hours a week of supervised visitation in a dingy facility when their innocent and frightened children have been temporarily taken.
9. Improved education for innocent kids who really want to learn, and not simply be taught to pass a multiple-choice test. Such kids would be less likely to have low self-esteem and to succumb to peer pressure.
10. Improved school offerings in art, music, physical education, drama, and the like, so that innocent kids might be exposed to the beauties of Western culture, and not find it necessary to major in subjects such as Corporate Communication and lead bureaucratic lives.
11. Meaningful substance abuse and gambling abuse prevention and education programs, so that innocent kids would have a better chance to succeed in life.
12. Removing children from their homes when absolutely necessary.
Of course, there are many other possibilities, and I do not wish to get overextended. Any of these items is debatable. However, I find it hard to believe that any reasonable person could prefer the following over child welfare:
1. Meaningless conferences and task forces on diversity.
2. Hounding parents every time that a kid has a childhood bruise.
3. Placing people on the Registry for one-time non-serious acts.
4. Hauling people into Juvenile Court because they are not properly deferential to social workers.
5. Paying outrageous salaries and benefits to DCF social workers, managers, lawyers, and the Assistant Attorneys General who prosecute their cases.
It is generally bad practice to pick on isolated examples to make a case. However, the Hartford Courant reported on Christmas Day, 2008, on the reprimand of a DCF lawyer. That lawyer was making $105,000.00 a year, and was allowed to keep her job, even though she had previously written a letter to the State, signed a false name, and made cowardly and false character assassinations against a State agency chief. (The agency chief was fired on the basis of those false allegations; but fortunately later reinstated, although to a different position). That lawyer was not a litigator; she was simply a desk lawyer, clothed with sovereign immunity, required to pay no expenses, and yet made over 100K a year.
The 105K salary did not include benefits. Benefits include: generous health care; generous vacations; every possible holiday; early retirement with a generous pension; free Union representation on any management problems, with resulting job security; and sovereign immunity, requiring no legal malpractice insurance.This is not a matter of private vs. public employees. Itís a matter of overly generous State salaries at taxpayer expense. You may draw your own conclusions.