Two managers from the Department of Children and Families were fired on Monday after authorities said they did not remove children from an unsafe home.
Linda Lukin and Leslie Roy were dismissed from DCF after they failed to remove children from a home in Plainfield. A Committee of Children member said the children were in a home with someone who has a "sex offender past" and someone, who "had a history of child abuse."
"You need to pay attention and attention was not paid in this particular instance. Fortunately, the children were not hurt," said Stonington State Rep. Diana Urban, who co-chairs the Committee on Children, and said there is no excuse for the oversight.
Her committee compiled DCF complaints and data since 2014 and even before the incident, she said the Willimantic office always stood out.
"Yes, it looks like Region 3, notwithstanding that Region 3 is our biggest geographic region, but still you have to start someplace," Urban said.
Letters to Lukin and Roy stated that their actions in the case would have called for children to be immediately removed from the homes and find a “safe and appropriate alternative for their care.”
Following an administrative report in January, a pre-disciplinary process found they “failed to recognize the serious risk associated with this situation, failed to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the children and instead allowed the children to remain in this arrangement.”
Lukin and Roy were fired them from their positions at the Willimantic office.
“It is not an easy decision to make when we have to take disciplinary action. 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," DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said in a statement on Tuesday.
Rich Rochlin, who is the attorney for Roy, released a statement on Tuesday following his client's termination.
"Ms. Roy had this case in a supervisory capacity for 17 days and sought guidance from a variety of inside and outside sources, all of whom agreed with the team's assessment and decision. These terminations are an attempt by Commissioner Katz to distract the legislature and the public about her failed leadership in leading a largely dysfunctional agency. We are confident that a public hearing which allows us the ability to examine some of the agency's recent shortfalls under oath will expose these terminations as nothing more than self-serving political gamesmanship. We look forward to that opportunity," Rochlin said.
Urban said her committee will continue to look at problem areas of the agency and address it with those in charge, to make sure this doesn't happen again.
On Feb. 25, 2016, DCF officials confirmed to Eyewitness News they were investigating an unsafe family situation in the state. DCF officials said at that time the children were immediately removed from the home and police were contacted in August.
Stay tuned on air and online for updates on this story.
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