Working together with families and communities to improve child safety, ensure that more children have permanent families, and advance the overall well-being of children is the central focus of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF protects children who are being abused or neglected, strengthens families through support and advocacy, and builds on existing family and community strengths to help children who are facing emotional and behavioral challenges, including those committed to the Department by the juvenile justice system.
DCF, established under Section 17a-2 of the Connecticut General Statutes, is one of the nation’s few agencies to offer child protection, behavioral health, juvenile justice and prevention services. Whether children are abused and/or neglected, are involved in the juvenile justice system, or have emotional, mental health or substance abuse issues, the Department can respond to these children in a way that draws upon community and state resources to help.
DCF recognizes the importance of family and strives to support children in their homes and communities. When this is not possible, a placement that meets the child’s individualized needs in the least restrictive setting is pursued. When services are provided out of the child’s home, whether in foster care, residential treatment or in a DCF facility, they are designed to return children safely and permanently back to the community.
DCF supports in-home and community-based services through contracts with service providers. In addition, the Department runs four facilities: a secure facility for boys who are committed to the Department as delinquents by the juvenile courts (the Connecticut Juvenile Training School); a children’s psychiatric hospital (Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center, North Campus in East Windsor and South Campus in Middletown) and an experiential program for troubled youth in Connecticut (the Wilderness School).