NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — Five visitation rooms at the Norwich office of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) received a makeover from the non-profit Fostering Family Hope.
The non-profit is run by co-executive directors and foster parents Megan Pearson and Erin Johnston. The new rooms, which include a lot of games and coloring books, are meant for children who had to be removed from their homes and meet their parents for supervised visits.
They used to be painted gray with a table and chairs, and now they are warmer and more welcoming.
“I very vividly recall hearing a family sing happy birthday in one of those rooms, and I remember thinking, we have to be better than that,” DCF Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes said.
Lorraine Thomas, a social work supervisor, said that for confidentiality, they can’t talk to a child, but would want the department to know that they care about them with these remodeled rooms.
“You know, when the rooms are comfortable, and parents are happy and kids are happy, reunification really, it does help that,” Pearson said.
Reunification is the goal and has been done for nearly 30% of the families in the last few years.
Pearson explained that in a few of the rooms, there are one-way mirrors, allowing for extra supervision, if needed. There are also rooms, like the infant room, which allow parents to do things they normally would at home, including rocking their babies or changing them.
Norwich is the fourth DCF office given one of these makeovers. They’ve already been done in Middletown, Meriden, and New Haven.
“One hundred percent I would hope to see that happen in all 14,” Corantes said.
Next up is Danbury.