Employed by the Connecticut Department of Children and Family (DCF) some eleven months ago as a social worker, Daniella Rosiclair was the most vocal among those who descended on the home where two little girls lived during a prior home visit in April, even going as far as asserting her “rights as a state worker” to enter the family’s home at will.
Yet, the 33 year-old Social Worker – through her testimony during a temporary custody trial – demonstrated she had no idea what to do, who to contact, or how to go about the most basic elements of the department’s 96 hour hold rule, as she was about to make the final decision to remove two children, after one of them, a 6 year-old, allegedly refused to return home from school.
Asked in court whether she had followed all proper procedures during the removal process, including contacting Felecia Canada, the lead DCF investigator in the case, or her supervisor, Tamara Bonilla, Rosiclair responded “No”
As it turns out, the children’s father had already signed a service agreement with Canada – a fact ignored by Rosiclair as she was not officially assigned to the case and only served as escort during a previous home visit with caseworker Yamali Luciani, a DCF trainee.
Rosiclair has been identified as the lone caseworker who – after a brief interview with the two girls in a side room at which no one else was present – hauled them to foster home, sources say.
Had she contacted Canada or Bonilla, for follow-up updates, she would have known that a service agreement had already been signed between the father and DCF, according to defense attorney Robert Shaver.
“She broke protocols,” said the defense attorney during closing statements.
In fact, Rosiclair went as far as listing the father’s refusal to sign a service agreement as the main factor in the agency’s decision to remove the two girls, even recording it on the 96 hour report handed to the father after the removal, it has been found.
In court, however, Rosiclair was confronted with a signed service agreement she had never seen, suggesting she had no idea one was already signed. Her admission she didn’t follow proper procedures came exactly 3 weeks after the removal. “If you’re going to take my children, you should make sure that you do everything right,” said the girls’ father, who asked that his name be withheld pending conclusion of the trial. “There should be no rooms for mistakes in situations like these.”
Courtney Labonte, co-founder of “corruptct.com, a Connecticut watchdog group, didn’t mince her words: “This is clearly the most glaring example of an agency out of control,” she said, adding that the Department has an obligation to come clean. ““If proper procedures were not followed as they took the children, then we have a very serious problem.”
Observers say the caseworker’s conduct and actions in the hours and minutes leading up to the removal are not uncommon and indeed highlight an overall problem as untrained workers take matters into their own hands, making key decisions without the approval of their supervisors and managers.
Pressed further on whether any 3rd party was present as she interviewed the two girls in a side room at the school, Rosiclair – who admitted going to the school alone without any escort – again, responded “No.”
“This looks more like a crumbling agency packed with untrained workers” bent on removing children at all cost,” fumed the father, who vowed to appeal any decision that fail to return his children home with their natural, biological parents. “No one is going to use my children to make money, keep their job and increase their agency budget,” he added.
The Connecticut Department Children and Family (DCF) has come under intense criticism recently as it faces serious charges that it used children as commodities to increase and maintain the department’s huge budget, estimated at more than $800 million.
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Mithout Gomez is a veteran journalist who's covered local, national and international issues for several New York-based newspapers.