Abuse reports to state child welfare agency increase

Abuse reports to state child welfare agency increase


NEW LONDON (AP) — Reports of suspected cases of abuse or neglect of minors have been coming in more frequently to the state Department of Children and Families in the wake of scandals at two Connecticut schools where police are investigating allegations that educators did not adequately report possible mistreatment.

The issues surrounding the schools have created more awareness of the responsibility of mandated reporters, which in turn has led to more reporting, DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt told The Day of New London.

“We have adjusted staff and we’re updating the phone system,” he said.

In a memo sent to school superintendents statewide on Dec. 4, DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said the agency was introducing a new online filing system for non-emergency reports of suspected child abuse and neglect concerns. The change was intended to address long wait times callers had experienced when trying to make reports as required within 12 hours.

Katz said the new system started as a pilot trial for some mandated reporters of suspected abuse and neglect and is expected to be available to all reporters by October 2019.

The laws requiring school officials to report suspected incidents of abuse or neglect have been highlighted by incidents at Montville High School and a police investigation at Norwich Free Academy.

In Montville, where a substitute teacher was accused of overseeing fights between students, three school administrators were charged with failure to follow the state’s mandated reporting law. One of them, Superintendent Brian Levesque, resigned in October.

State officials said that under the mandated reporter law authorities should have been alerted to fighting that appeared to be encouraged by an authority figure.

Police charged former Norwich Free Academy assistant coach Anthony Facchini with two counts of second-degree sexual assault on Sept. 12 for alleged sexual relations with two students. Police and state investigators are looking into whether school officials who learned of the alleged relationship last year failed to pass along the information. No school officials have been charged following the former coach’s arrest.


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