From: Greegor on
http://www.daylife.com/photo/09KObAj9w9fzb

AP Photo 18 months ago
Susan Hamilton, Department of Children and Families Commissioner,
speaks at a news conference at her office in Hartford, Conn. ,
Thursday, July 17, 2008. Hamilton said she is seeking to fire employee
Suzanne Listro and is seeking reforms within the department. 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.
http://www.fixcas.com/news/2008/Listro.jpg


http://www.fixcas.com/news/2008/b2008d.htm

Agency Worker Arrested; Investigation Reveals Past Allegations

DCF Worker Charged In Death Of Infant

By MATT BURGARD And HILDA MUÑOZ, Courant Staff Writers, July 18, 2008

A state Department of Children and Families employee who appeared in
court Thursday to face charges that include manslaughter in the death
of her 7-month-old foster child had been investigated twice by DCF
since 2006 in response to allegations she had abused her adopted 3-
year-old son. In each instance, the allegations were found to be
unsubstantiated by DCF investigations, which the head of the agency
described Thursday as "substandard and unacceptable."

Commissioner Susan I. Hamilton said one of the DCF investigators who
looked into the abuse allegations against Suzanne Listro in 2006 and
2007 has been fired in the wake of the death of Listro's foster child,
and a manager who supervised the investigations has been suspended
without pay for 20 days. Another investigator and a senior manager are
also expected to be disciplined in connection with the earlier abuse
complaints, Hamilton said.

"As commissioner of this agency, I not only feel the enormity of the
loss but have the responsibility to do something about it," Hamilton
said Thursday at a press conference at DCF headquarters. "The death of
any child for any reason is difficult to comprehend, but when it
happens at the hands of someone who has been entrusted with their care
by the state, it is an unspeakable and unacceptable tragedy."


from a Courant article July 17
Conecticut Department of Children and Families employee Suzanne Listro
stands at her arraignment in Superior Court in Rockville Thursday.
Listro was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a
7-month-old foster child in May. (AP / WFSB-TV / July 17, 2008)
Listro, 42, a 15-year DCF employee who was granted a license to be a
foster parent earlier this year, was arrested by state police
Wednesday night at her home in Mansfield in connection with the May 19
death of the 7-month-old boy who had been placed in her care for a
week before he died.

Listro appeared Thursday at Superior Court in Rockville to face
charges of first-degree manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor.

Her bail was set at $1 million, and she is to return to court on July
25.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Listro told investigators
that the infant, identified as Michael Brown Jr., fell off a bed in a
bedroom of her Mansfield home while she was ejecting a video and
turning off her TV.

When she turned around, she saw the baby lying on his back on the
floor, his eyes shut tight as if wincing, the affidavit says.

When Listro picked the boy up, he cried for a moment and then went
limp, the affidavit says. Listro told investigators she tried
unsuccessfully to revive the baby then called 911. The baby was taken
by ambulance to Windham Community Memorial Hospital in Willimantic and
then by Life Star helicopter to Hartford Hospital, where he was
pronounced dead, the affidavit says.

The prosecutor in the case, Matthew C. Gedansky, told Judge Patricia
Harleston that Listro's story was not consistent with the baby's head
injuries.

"The defendant's explanation for the victim's injuries are
inconsistent and ... somewhat unbelievable," he said.

Hamilton said the agency granted Listro a foster care license in
February in part because the agency's licensing division was unaware
of the previous abuse complaints against her. The commissioner said
that because those allegations had been found to be unsubstantiated,
they were never included in the agency's computerized registry of
child abuse and neglect. Instead, she said, details of the allegations
were kept on file only in hard-copy form, and therefore the agency's
foster care licensing division never saw them.

After the death of Listro's foster child, the agency launched a more
intensive review into her history with the agency, and the files about
the allegations involving Listro surfaced, Hamilton said. When she
learned of the allegations that Listro had abused her adopted son, now
3, it became clear that the investigators who looked into the
allegations had not been thorough enough to make a definitive finding
either way.

"It is unclear whether those allegations would have been substantiated
if a more thorough investigation had been completed," Hamilton said,
adding that investigators failed to question several key witnesses,
such as day-care providers, who might have been able to provide
insight into the allegations.

The 3-year-old, now in DCF custody, was adopted through an
international agency that also checked Listro's background, Hamilton
said.

Along with the discipline imposed on the investigators and their
supervisors, Hamilton said she has called for several other steps to
make sure abuse investigations are conducted more thoroughly and to
make sure licensing officials have access to all background
information before granting foster care licenses in the future.

Hamilton said she has placed the special investigations unit that
looked into the earlier abuse allegations under new management while
ordering a complete overhaul for the unit, including retraining for
all staff on the proper conduct of investigations.

In the meantime, she said, she has ordered her chief of staff to
review all recent unsubstantiated investigations, as well as cases
that have been substantiated but with recommendations that the case be
closed, to make sure they were conducted properly.

To prevent background information from slipping through the cracks,
Hamilton said, she has ordered all future abuse investigations,
substantiated or not, to be entered into the agency's database and to
cease keeping unsubstantiated files in hard-copy form.

She said she has also ordered a review of all DCF employees who have
been granted foster care licenses to make sure they were granted
properly.

The agency, which employs more than 3,400 people, has 28 employees who
are licensed foster parents, as well as 15 who are in the process of
obtaining a license, she said.

To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the agency will
also begin outsourcing all applications for foster care licenses
involving DCF employees to a private contractor by Oct. 1, Hamilton
said.

Lastly, the commissioner said, she has asked the Child Welfare League
of America to conduct an independent, comprehensive review of the
Listro case to identify any other systemic problems or possible
solutions.

"I want to again stress that I and the entire department are
responding as fully as we can to this tragic loss," Hamilton said.

Jeanne Milstein, the state's child advocate, said she welcomed the
steps the commissioner outlined to address shortcomings within the
agency.

But she leveled a withering criticism against the agency's record of
reacting to tragedies instead of ensuring they don't happen at all.

"I am deeply troubled by the repeated, fatally flawed responses by DCF
to a child's death," Milstein said. "Aggressively reviewing and
upholding quality care should be common sense and commonplace."

Hamilton said the agency is now in the process of terminating Listro
from her job at DCF.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Michael Brown Sr. said he is still
struggling with the loss of his son.

"It's been hell, losing our son and ... the way he died," Brown said
after Listro's court appearance Thursday. "She's supposed to be a
foster parent and that's hard to swallow."

Contact Matt Burgard at mburgard(a)courant.com .

Source: The Hartford Courant

http://www.courant.com/news/local/ec/hc-4townreview0510.artmay10,0,1193711.story?page=2
Sunday Town Review May 10, 2009

MANSIFIELD — The system meant to protect 7-month-old Michael Brown
Jr., who died last year while in the foster care of a state Department
of Children and Families worker, failed him in numerous ways,
according to a review of the child's death released Wednesday.

Although his foster mother, Suzanne Listro of Mansfield, had twice
been the subject of DCF investigations into allegations that she
abused her adopted son, the DCF workers responsible for determining if
Listro was qualified to be a foster parent were not aware of them
because of a department practice.

Listro was a DCF employee, so cases involving her were kept out of the
agency's computer system. The allegations against Listro were not
substantiated.

The review, conducted by DCF representatives, the Child Welfare League
of America and the Office of the Child Advocate, found that
investigations into abuse and neglect by DCF employees fell below
standards. DCF Commissioner Susan I. Hamilton last July offered a
similar assessment of the investigations of Listro, calling them
"substandard and unacceptable."

But state Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein said the problems in
investigations extend beyond Listro's case or those of DCF employees.

"It took this tragedy and the commissioner herself reviewing this case
to understand that it wasn't just this case where investigations were
substandard," she said. "There were many other cases as well."


http://groups.google.com/group/alt.support.child-protective-services/msg/e4cb2d2df60b1c6e

Newsgroups: alt.support.child-protective-services, alt.adoption,
misc.legal, soc.men, sci.med.diseases.lyme
From: Greegor <Greego...(a)gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 8 May 2009 19:54:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: DCF covers up abuse "in care." That's ENTIRELY what DCF is
all about.

http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-dcf-death-investigation-0507.artmay07,0,4772898.story

Review Of Connecticut Foster Child's Death Cites System Failures
By ARIELLE LEVIN BECKER The Hartford Courant May 7, 2009

The system meant to protect 7-month-old Michael Brown Jr., who died
last year while in the foster care of a state Department of Children
and Families worker, failed him in numerous ways, according to a
review of the child's death released Wednesday.

Although his foster mother, Suzanne Listro, had twice been the
subject
of DCF investigations into allegations that she abused her adopted
son, the DCF workers responsible for determining if Listro was
qualified to be a foster parent were not aware of them because of a
department practice.

Listro was a DCF employee, so cases involving her were kept out of
the
agency's computer system. The allegations against Listro were not
substantiated.

The review, conducted by DCF representatives, the Child Welfare
League
of America and the Office of the Child Advocate, found that
investigations into abuse and neglect by DCF employees fell below
standards. DCF Commissioner Susan I. Hamilton last July offered a
similar assessment of the investigations of Listro, calling them
"substandard and unacceptable."

But state Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein said the problems in
investigations extend beyond Listro's case or those of DCF employees.

"It took this tragedy and the commissioner herself reviewing this
case
to understand that it wasn't just this case where investigations were
substandard," she said. "There were many other cases as well."

The review also found that the licensing process for the foster home
failed to assess "powerful indicators" for a successful placement,
such as support networks and the potential foster parent's ability to
maintain enduring friendships. DCF released a summary of the report,
but declined to make public the entire document.

Listro was charged with first-degree manslaughter and risk of injury
to a minor in connection with Michael's death last May, just a week
after he was placed in her care. She has pleaded not guilty and has
been fired from DCF. Her lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Listro, 43, told police that Michael fell off a bed in her Mansfield
home while she was ejecting a video and turning off her television.
When she turned around, she said, she saw him lying on his back on
the
floor, and when she picked him up, he cried for a moment, then went
limp, according to her arrest warrant affidavit.

But the prosecutor in the case, Matthew C. Gedansky, said in court
last July that Listro's story was not consistent with Michael's head
injuries. Michael was taken to Windham Community Memorial Hospital,
then transferred by Life Star helicopter to Hartford Hospital, where
he was pronounced dead.

Michael's death prompted changes at the agency, including some
recommended by the review. Reports and investigations into DCF
employees, which for a decade were maintained in paper files separate
from the department's electronic database, are now entered into the
database. Gary Kleeblatt, a DCF spokesman, said Wednesday that he did
not know why the employee files had been kept separate.

The specialized unit that conducted the investigations involving
Listro was placed under new management and overhauled, and the staff
was retrained.

And DCF now hires an outside agency to handle the licensing of DCF
employees seeking to become foster parents to avoid conflicts of
interest.

"The death of Michael badly shook the department and me personally,"
Hamilton said in a written statement. "While several notable reforms
have been implemented, I am determined that we learn everything we
can
so we can continue to improve the safety and well-being of children
in
foster care."

The review also found that "safe foster placements of infants and
children are hampered by a shortage of homes equipped to accommodate
them." It recommended that DCF examine the capacity for accommodating
infants and children and also develop protocol for collecting and
providing caregiving information to foster parents.

Milstein praised the review's recommendations, but noted that some of
them — including putting reports about DCF workers into the
electronic
database used by investigators — had been recommended by her office
years ago.

"It took a tragedy to get that implemented," she said.

And Milstein said there is more to be done.

Milstein said that DCF must better monitor the quality of
investigations and suggested that the department's quality
improvement
division should review cases randomly on a daily basis to see if they
are meeting the standards.

"It was just a substandard investigation," she said. "But we see that
more often than we'd like to see in other cases as well."

Milstein said the problems do not reflect a lack of money or staffing
in the agency, which has a budget of nearly $900 million and
investigators with what Milstein said are among the lowest caseloads
in the country. Instead, she said, it's a matter of leadership
committing the department to "vigorous quality improvement" and
holding workers to quality practices and standards.

Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant
( FAIR USE, for discussion purposes )