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A federal court ends a 33-year-old consent decree on Connecticut’s child welfare system

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A U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, has ended the consent decree it had placed the state’s Department of Children and Families under for the past 33 years.

The court ruled that Connecticut’s child welfare system has met the goals set forth in the lawsuit, which claimed that the system had not met the needs of children of color in foster care.

Governor Ned Lamont said he is proud of the changes the state has made.

“We are moving away from institutionalization. We are moving away from kids not being with family, or at least extended family,” he said.

Children of color represent a disproportionate number of the children in foster care, said Vanessa Dorantes, the state’s commissioner for the Department of Children and Families.

“So we have to look at how we serve those families and engage with those communities very differently than just a blanket approach,” she said.

Children in Connecticut were stuck in the foster care system moving from home to home for years, said Ira Lustbader. He is with Children’s Rights, the group that filed the lawsuit. The state’s changes have made its child welfare system a national leader, said Lustbader.

Job one is to keep families together and prevent unnecessary separation,” Lustbader said.

The state now has limited caseloads for social workers and provides community based mental health and other supportive services.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.