DCF fires 2 employees for not removing kids placed with sex and child abuse offenders
PLAINFIELD — The state Department of Children and Families has terminated two employees for failing to remove children placed in a dangerous home.
Managers Leslie Roy and Linda Lukin, who worked in the Willimantic DCF office, were placed on paid administrative leave in January, and then officially terminated as of April 4. They received notifications of their terminations on March 21.
“It is not an easy decision to make when we have to take disciplinary action,” DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said in a statement to FOX 61. “I know it takes a toll–not just on the staff immediately affected but on the office in question as well as the entire workforce. But at the end of the day, we must place the children we serve above everything else. In this case, our policies and expectations were clear. Safety factors were ignored, and we must be and are responsible for taking the necessary actions.”
According to the Courant, the DCF staff knew of the issues for four months before the Willimantic office’s director was notified and immediately removed the 1-year-old and infant from the home of Charles Staples and his wife. The couple had been trying to gain guardianship of the children because their biological parents had neglected or abused them.
FOX 61 first learned of the investigation in February. “I am very troubled by the decisions made in this matter, and we are now conducting a human resources investigation involving several staff from the Willimantic office,” said Katz in a statement sent to FOX 61 at the time.
According to the termination letter sent to Roy by DCF Human Resources Director Eileen F. Meehan, which FOX 61 received a copy of, the social worker supervisor for the case brought the issue to the attention of Leslie Roy, who “failed to recognize the serious risk associated with this situation, failed to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the children and allowed the children to remain in this arrangement.”
The letter said the expectation would have been for Roy to initiate the removal of the kids and find safe alternative for them to live in, but she didn’t. According to the letter, Roy claimed she consulted with clinical staff and lawyers, but those actions don’t mitigate her responsibility to ensure the safety of the children.
“It is determined that retaining you in employment would fail to ensure safety of children over whose cases you have managerial responsibility,” the letter concluded.
Meanwhile, according to the letter sent to Lukin by DCF Human Resources Director Eileen F. Meehan, which FOX 61 received copy of, Lukin “failed to recognize the serious risk associated with this situation, failed to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the children and allowed the children to remain in this arrangement.”
Lukin said that the delay in removing the kids was because she left for vacation shortly after the case was assigned, and then another supervisor on the case also went on vacation. She also scheduled a future placement review team meeting, but the letter says that should have happened immediately and not been planned for a future date.
“Given the serious risk you were willing to take on behalf of these children…and your failure to recognize your managerial responsibility and authority to immediately and independently override such improper decisions made by other staff, despite consults or recommendations, it is determined that retaining you in employment would fail to ensure the safety of the children over whose cases you have managerial responsibility,” the letter concluded.