Danbury – The State Department of Children and Families has reopened the Danbury office’s family visitation rooms, which were designed to be more family-friendly living room-type environments. State Representatives Rachel Chaleski (R-Danbury) and Mitch Bolinsky (R-Newtown) were among the officials on hand to celebrate the grand re-opening on Thursday, August 24, 2023.
“The care and attention that was put into creating a natural space for a more normalized interaction between parent and child can be seen in each of the redesigned rooms that included input from those who work directly with the families. What were once sterile environments with white walls and random office furniture are now colorful, welcoming settings with couches, rocking chairs, and toys. There is even a sensory space for children with low lighting and a calming design. There were some beautiful murals, including one farm landscape by the talented and generous Joseph DiGiuseppe, a middle school teacher in Danbury whose work can be seen throughout the City of Danbury,” said Chaleski.
Leaders at the Danbury Regional DCF Office said the visitation room beautification program helps youth, parents and guardians already managing a difficult time to bond and build positive, health relationships with one another.
“A large part of reunification is to get services out of the office and into the home. My daughter has worked in the field and much of her caseload was in collaboration with DCF. The agency’s investment in creating this inviting, more family-friendly environment will provide a warmer, safe space to facilitate the reunification process, and allow a team-approach that brings children together under an umbrella of care that can include their birth family, their foster family, DCF counselors and clinicians. This will make a difference, and get children back a safe, loving home environment. I want to thank our foster families for bridging the gap, and all the local merchants who partnered with DCF on these spaces, including the Danbury Women’s Group, Bob’s Furniture, Women’s Club of New Milford, and Rise Up For the Arts,” said Bolinsky.
There are currently about 3,000 kids in DCF care, about 121 served by the Danbury regional office.
“Here at DCF, we do our best to make sure kids and families can decompress from the trauma of separation. We want to make sure when kids who have had to be placed in foster care visit with their families, they can settle in and rebuild their connections beyond the crisis that brought them to our attention. The ability to do that in a state building can be hard but Fostering Family Hope transformed the space into a place with heart and warmth,” said DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes during the grand reopening.
Fostering Family Hope works to create spaces for family visits that are more conducive to families learning how to interact with one another once again. The nonprofit was formed in 2021 by two foster moms to help provide basic essentials and emotional support for families. In addition to Visitation Rooms, Fostering Family Hope also hosts support groups, provides Care Bags, and runs Foster Closet. They accept donations of toys, art supplies, and new or gently used clothing among other items.