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Postby Marina » Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:23 pm

. ... nt_death_3

Conn. child welfare worker charged in baby's death
By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jul 17, 8:07 PM ET

HARTFORD, Conn. - An employee of the state Department of Children and Families has been charged in the death of a 7-month-old foster child placed in her care, prompting the agency to seek her dismissal.

Suzanne Listro received a foster care provider's license earlier this year, despite having been investigated twice on allegations she abused a 3-year-old boy she adopted, DCF Commissioner Susan Hamilton said. Those accusations were not substantiated.

State police charged Listro, 40, with manslaughter Wednesday in the May 19 death of Michael Brown Jr., who suffered a blunt trauma head injury at her home in Mansfield. At a court appearance Thursday, a judge set bond at $1 million. Her adopted son is under DCF care, Hamilton said.

"We don't expect her to be posting bond today," said her attorney, Matthew Potter. He declined to comment further.

Listro told authorities that the baby fell off a bed onto the floor, went limp and stopped breathing, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. But the chief medical examiner's office said the child's injuries were not consistent with that explanation and ruled the death a homicide.

The baby had been in Listro's home for a week before he died. He was Listro's first placement and had been in another foster home before then, the commissioner said.

Listro has been at the department for 15 years and most recently worked as a children's services consultant. She has been on unpaid leave since May, and Hamilton is seeking to have her fired.

Hamilton also said she will require an outside firm to review agency workers who want to be foster parents beginning Oct. 1.

The Department of Children and Families has about 3,400 full-time workers; 28 are licensed to be foster parents and 15 are going through the licensing process.

"The death of any child for any reason is difficult to comprehend, but when it comes at the hands of someone who has been entrusted with their care by the state it is an unspeakable and unacceptable tragedy," said Hamilton, who has run the department for the last year.

Hamilton said she also plans to dismiss a department investigator who handled the two previous abuse probes in 2006 and 2007 involving Listro and her adopted child. She called those investigations "substandard and unacceptable."

A manager who approved both investigations will be suspended for 20 days, Hamilton said. Others who work in the department's Special Investigations Unit are also being reviewed and further discipline could be imposed.

Because the alleged abuse was unsubstantiated, Listro's name was not in the automated child abuse and neglect registry when she was being investigated for a foster care license, Hamilton said.


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Postby Marina » Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:24 pm

. ... 024811.txt

DCF proposes changes as employee faces charges in death of child
By Jenna N. Carlesso
Journal Inquirer
Published: Friday, July 18, 2008 10:21 AM EDT

The Department of Children and Families is seeking to fire an employee who’s facing a manslaughter charge in the death of her 7-month-old foster child.

Agency officials also are promising changes at the state’s child-welfare agency, after an internal review determined the case was improperly handled.

The DCF employee, Suzanne M. Listro of Mansfield, who most recently worked as a children’s service consultant, twice had been investigated in the last two years on reports of child abuse, although the complaints were found to be unsubstantiated, DCF Commissioner Susan I. Hamilton said at a news conference Thursday.

In February, she was granted a foster care provider’s license from DCF, despite the investigations.

DCF was unaware of the previous abuse complaints against her, Hamilton said. While the earlier reports weren’t substantiated, they also weren’t included in the agency’s computer registry, the commissioner added. Details of those complaints were kept only in hard-copy form, and DCF’s licensing division never checked them.

The infant’s death prompted a more in-depth review of Listro’s background, Hamilton said, during which the prior abuse complaints were discovered. It isn’t clear, though, whether those reports would have affected Listro getting a license, she added.

The internal review of how Listro’s case was handled revealed errors in the agency’s procedures and its staff performance, Hamilton conceded.

“As commissioner of this agency, I not only feel the enormity of this loss but have the responsibility to do something about it,” Hamilton said. “I have taken immediate and decisive action in response to my investigation into this case.”

One of the agency’s investigators who handled those complaints against Listro has been fired, and the manager who supervised that investigator was suspended without pay for 20 days, Hamilton said.

Listro, 42, was charged Wednesday with manslaughter and risk of injury to a child.

She had worked at DCF since 1993. The deceased infant, Michael Brown Jr., whose father lives in East Hartford, had been in her care only a week when police were alerted on May 19 that he was unresponsive.

He was transported by ambulance from Listro’s home to Windham Memorial Hospital and later taken by Life Star helicopter to Hartford Hospital, where he died.

Listro was put on unpaid leave immediately following the death.

Aside from cracking down on investigators and their supervisors, Hamilton said she has ordered a complete overhaul for the special investigations unit, which includes retraining staff on their procedures and responsibilities. All future abuse and neglect investigations, with or without merit, will be entered into the DCF’s database, she said.

Her chief of staff also will review all recent unsubstantiated investigations, she said.

“I will, and have continued to hold myself and my staff accountable for any improvements that are needed,” she said.

Another child under Listro’s care, a 3-year-old she adopted through an international agency, has been turned over to DCF custody.

“I and the department are responding as fully as we can to this tragic loss,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton also said she will require an outside firm to review DCF workers who want to be foster parents beginning Oct. 1.

There are 28 DCF employees who have been licensed to be foster parents and 15 are undergoing the licensing process. DCF has about 3,400 full-time workers, and they undergo the same background checks as other potential foster parents, she said.

“The death of any child for any reason is difficult to comprehend, but when it comes at the hands of someone who has been entrusted with their care by the state, it is an unspeakable and unacceptable tragedy,” said Hamilton, who has run the department for the last year.

Last edited by Marina on Sat Jul 26, 2008 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Marina » Mon Jul 21, 2008 3:57 pm


Biological parents speak out about death of 7-month-old son - Crystal Haynes reports

By News Channel 8's Crystal Haynes
Posted July 17, 2008
10:35 PM

(WTNH) _ Parents sit down with News Channel 8 to talk about the death of their infant child. Their son died in the custody of a DCF foster mother.

That person is charged in the boy's death and his biological mother and father are left to grieve.

Michael Brown Sr. and Angelica Burgos tell News Channel 8 their son would have been 9 months old today. Normally, it's a happy milestone but now it's just a gruesome reminder of their son's death. Their grief was compounded by the shocking details of the foster mother he was left with.

Manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor. The charges read cold and shocking in a Tolland county courtroom against 42-year-old Suzanne Listro. She's a veteran DCF worker, adoptive mother and foster parent charged with the care of Michael Brown Senior's and Anglelica Burgos's 7-month-old son.

"They took him May 9th. And they put him in foster care May 12th," Brown said. "I think it was and he died May 19th. Seven days in foster care? Someone supposed to watch over our son and didn't. He was safe at home with us."

DCF took custody of the infant citing inadequate supervision reportedly not the first time the couple has had to deal with authorities. Their attorney admitted Burgos has struggled with drug abuse. But, that doesn't justify what happened to their son, says Brown, and the disturbing details of Listro's past is like a second blow.

"I think there should have been more investigated on her being a DCF worker and foster parent," Brown said. "It's a hard blow for me. It's a hard pill to swallow."

Brown and Burgos are now seeking answers, hiring an attorney to conduct their own investigation in DCF. With their son buried, they hope to unearth the truth and find closure.

"Someone snatched my heart out. That was my only son," Brown said. "My first born son. And now he's taken away, to a place were they say it would be safe for him and he wound up dying."

In turn, Brown said, "Justice will come out. They'll pay for what they've done."

News Channel 8 also spoke to Suzanne Listro's attorney but he declined comment until after her next court appearance scheduled for next Friday.

Meantime, Brown and Burgos says they may consider filing a civil suit against DCF.


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Postby Marina » Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:34 pm

. ... 028151.txt

Dad hires lawyer to investigate baby’s death in DCF care

By Matthew Engelhardt
Journal Inquirer
Published: Friday, July 18, 2008 10:08 PM EDT

The father of an infant who died while in the custody of a licensed foster parent — who is also an employee of the state Department of Children and Families — has hired a lawyer to investigate the circumstances surrounding his son’s death....

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Postby Marina » Sat Jul 26, 2008 5:33 pm


Team 8 investigates

Child Care Concerns -

Alan Cohn reports

By Team 8 Investigator Alan Cohn
Posted July 22, 2008
4:30 PM

Hartford (WTNH) -- The attorney general is taking the reigns and investigating the welfare of children at the Department of Children and Families. This is on the heels of a 7-month-old baby's death, allegedly at the hands of his foster mother.

Suzanne Listro, 40, was investigated twice for child abuse but still given custody of the infant.

"DCF is often dysfunctional in its decisions, a statement that gives me great regret to make but one that's unavoidable based on our experience over the past years," Attorney General Blumenthal said.

That experience, he says, includes, what Team 8 uncovered last fall. A foster child in the Stratford home kept with her feet bound in a playpen, covered by plywood, secured shut by bungee cords.

While DCF removed the child from the home, the agency allowed the family to keep, even adopt another children.

Blumenthal defended DCF's actions in court. This is a position he now questions.

"One of the lessons here for me is the need for greater scrutiny and skepticism when it comes to the facts and judgments we receive and we have to defend from DCF," Attorney General Blumenthal said.

DCF insists the two cases have little in common. While Commissioner Susan Hamilton last week said mistakes were made, leading to the death of the 7-month-old baby, DCF denies any problems with the case News Channel 8 uncovered, where one child was removed and others allowed to stay.

In a statement, a spokesman says a recent review concluded, "The department felt comfortable that enough managerial oversight exists to ensure that there is a sound basis for making such a decision."

Jeannie Milstein, the State's Child Advocate also sees a link between these two cases, "These are not isolated incidents," she said. "The fundamental issue here is the lack of supervision and management on both these cases where the ball got dropped and there was not enough vigilant effort made to ensure the safety and well being of these children."


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Postby Marina » Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:28 pm

. ... ?track=rss

Officials: DCF Was Advised Of Problems 5 Years Ago

By JON LENDER | Courant Staff Writer
July 27, 2008

The state Department of Children and Families was told five years ago of internal weaknesses that it is only now trying to remedy after the May death of an infant under the foster care of a DCF employee, two key state officials say.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein wrote Friday to DCF Commissioner Susan Hamilton, saying they issued a joint report in 2003 that raised the very issues that Hamilton pledged this month to address because of the death of 7-month-old Michael Brown.

They wrote in their letter that they are "particularly troubled that the same systemic concerns you raised in response to Michael's death were brought to DCF's attention nearly five years ago" in a 2003 report titled "Children Left At Risk."

" Connecticut citizens, particularly our children, deserve to know why — after nearly five years — DCF has failed to adopt or even address the critical measures that we raised in our initial investigative report."

Milstein and Blumenthal asked some pointed questions — including when Hamilton, DCF's legal director before becoming commissioner in 2007, learned of their 2003 report. They asked what DCF did in response and what it plans now.

In response, DCF spokesman Josh Howroyd issued a statement: "The commissioner stands by her comments made last week including her statement that she will continue to hold herself, her staff and the system accountable for any and all improvements within our control that are needed to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. We will provide the child advocate and the attorney general with a specific response to the concerns that they raise ... and we look forward to working collaboratively with them."

On July 17, Suzanne Listro, 42, a licensed foster parent now on leave from her children's services consultant position at DCF, was arraigned on a manslaughter charge in the May death of the 7-month-old placed in her home a week earlier. Listro had been investigated twice under allegations of child abuse that were never substantiated.

Milstein and Blumenthal compared excerpts from their 2003 report to statements by Hamilton after Listro's arraignment.

•Hamilton said July 17: "Although the [past] allegations [against Listro] were not substantiated, the quality of those investigations, conducted by our centralized Special Investigations Unit (SIU), was substandard and unacceptable. Accordingly, it is unclear whether those allegations would have been substantiated [by] a more thorough investigation."

•The Milstein-Blumenthal report said in 2003: "The [DCF] must improve its processes of investigation and assessment. ... The number of times allegations of abuse or neglect are unsubstantiated, or substantiated and closed without ... action ... reflects a lack of comprehensiveness and depth in the family studies undertaken by department line staff."

In another example, Blumenthal and Milstein cited a statement in their 2003 report that said DCF's "management structure and ... internal communication ... must be revamped" because they were marred by "the use of informal communications, and hand-me-down information."

They noted that Hamilton said on July 17 that she had "learned for the first time" after the baby's death "that unsubstantiated allegations against DCF employees were not being entered into our automated database ... and were being maintained only in hard-copy, and this prevented the licensing staff from having access to this information as part of their assessment."

State Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, who had called for the 2003 report after discovering numerous failures to document child abuse allegations, said the issues in Friday's letter "need to be addressed. ... The last thing we want is to see problems swept under the rug. I would hope that they would reach out to the legislature."

Also in mid-July, a federal judge approved a settlement ordering the state to recruit more foster families to help troubled children and reduce the number of non-family group homes for abused youth. The state must add 850 foster family homes over the next two years.


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Postby Marina » Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:25 pm ... ?track=rss

Center's Troubled Teens 'Assaulted With Needles,' Officials Say

By JON LENDER | The Hartford Courant
October 18, 2008

Teens being treated for drug abuse and mental illness at Stonington Institute have been involuntarily injected with medication to restrain them in what the state attorney general and child advocate Friday called another example of poor supervision by the Department of Children and Families.


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Postby Marina » Tue Nov 25, 2008 5:31 pm ... 816187.txt

Published: Friday, November 7, 2008 12:16 PM EST
DCF: Beyond redemption

Recently, the state legislature decided to hold hearings regarding the conduct of the Department of Children and Families. The hearings were called due to questions regarding the care of children under DCF’s guardianship.

DCF, even while under federal receivership, failed to enact corrective measures. These measures would only have benefited the children they are entrusted to serve, in our name. However, the problems persist, DCF remains intransigent, and the frailest amongst us suffer — Connecticut’s children.

While these are important issues that must be addressed, there are others as disturbing.

The legislature should investigate the quasi-prosecutions of parents by DCF through the juvenile court system of Connecticut.

DCF, in its prosecutions of parents, seems to rely more on guile and deceit than factual evidence. DCF never informs parents of their rights as guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions. Often, and with the collusion of the court, DCF will seek orders that violate these civil liberties. Among, these are orders for drug testing and psychological evaluations. Knowing this, why are these parents’ rights continually usurped? This is not due process, and it certainly is not justice. DCF should never have been allowed to turn Connecticut’s juvenile court system into a mockery of justice.

Those who seek an agency with core values that are ethical and appropriate will not find either quality within DCF. This agency is permeated with the sickness of its actions and is beyond redemption.

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Postby Marina » Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:01 pm ... -Home.html

Foster Father Charged With Sex Assault

Suspect cared for three foster children
Updated 8:56 AM EST, Wed, Nov 19, 2008

A Stafford Springs home was raided by the FBI and State Police.

A Stafford Springs man is accused of having an on-going sexual relationship with an 11-year-old girl. 59-year old Craig Niles appeared before a judge Monday afternoon in Rockville Superior Court to face a long string of charges including sexual assault of a minor and risk of injury to a minor.

Court documents indicate the relationship first came to light when the accused bragged about it online, using the screenname KidsR4Sex. The FBI and State Police searched his home Friday and, according to the affidavit of probable cause, Niles confessed that he'd been having a sexual relationship with the victim for almost 2 years. He was arrested Saturday. A computer file collected as evidence is said to have hundreds of photos of the victim in 'various states of undress' and 50 videos containing child pornography.

Niles had been living in the Stafford Springs home with his wife, two adopted teenage sons and a foster child placed in the home by DCF. All three children have since been removed from the home.

Niles, who has no criminal history, remains behind bars on $750,000 bond. He is expected to face additional state and federal charges.

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Postby Marina » Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:16 pm

Another article about the above case. ... ?track=rss

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Postby Marina » Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:53 pm ... t&psp=news

Round 3 Of DCF Investigation HeldInvestigation Stems From Child's Death In DCF Custody

POSTED: 5:55 pm EST December 5, 2008
UPDATED: 6:10 pm EST December 5, 2008

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Department of Children and Families was in the hot seat Friday for round three of an investigation into the agency.

Concerns surfaced after the untimely death of an infant -- reportedly at the hands of a DCF employee earlier this year. Officials said a baby died in May while in the custody of a DCF worker.

“Are children and families better off because of their interaction with DCF?” asked Sen. Jonathan Harris. “We want to answer that question.”

The most recent discussion included testimony from service providers who interact with DCF on a daily basis.

“Should the agency break down?” asked Martha Stone, who overseas the Center for Children’s Advocacy. “It's our position that it's not good to break up the agency.”

She said DCF must better integrate juvenile justice, education and more.

"The structural changes I'd consider are taking prevention out of DCF and look to take out licensing," she said.

“Focus on education,” said Gary Kleeblatt, of DCF. “Nothing more important than strengthening our oversite/improvement efforts.”

There's also talk of re-procuring state contracts.

"There are pretty strong concerns,” said Mary-Ellen Hass. “The state is at a limited capacity."

The next step is a public hearing slated for Dec. 18.

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Postby Marina » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:14 pm ... t&psp=news

Parents Air Concerns At Final DCF Hearing
Committee To Make Recommendations On DCF To General Assembly

POSTED: 6:04 pm EST December 18, 2008

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Parents attended a Department of Children and Families hearing Thursday to voice concerns about the organization.

They said the state is quick to take children away and won't give them back, even if there is a family who wants and loves the child.

Trina Porter said she has spent two years trying to get her niece, Isabella, out of state custody. She said Isabella was 2 years old when she was taken away from her mother.

Though Isabella’s mother is a drug addict, Porter said, the child still has family.

Porter flew to Connecticut from Maryland for the investigative hearing. She said the department won’t deal with families out of state.

Linda Holden said her adopted daughter, Chelsea, who has behavioral problems, has been in state custody for two months. She said Chelsea was only supposed to be evaluated for four days.

She said that when she was allowed to visit this week, her daughter was heavily medicated and suicidal.

Thursday was the fourth and final day of hearings. Some state leaders recommended breaking up DCF to make it a better agency. The committee that conducted the hearing will make recommendations to the General Assembly at a later date.

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