State child welfare officials have seen a steady decline in the number of licensed foster homes in recent years, a situation that means hundreds of neglected children are relegated to institutions.

The state Department of Children and Families reports there are 790 fewer licensed foster homes today than there were in 2001.

An upsurge in adoptions is partly responsible for the decline, DCF spokesman
Gary Kleeblatt told The Hartford Courant.

Subsidized guardianships, college tuition assistance for adopted children and other incentives are among the changes linked to the increase in the number of foster parents who are adopting their foster children.


Those parents or relatives then often give up their foster care license to focus on their new child, Kleeblatt said.


Many foster parents are leaving out of frustration, according to Jean Fiorito , executive director of the Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents in Rocky Hill.

In a recent survey of foster parents who left the system, 28 percent said they left because of adoption and 22 percent said they left because DCF did not support them enough, Fiorito said.


"The biggest complaint I hear is no one (at DCF) returns phone calls," Fiorito said. "And sometimes that's all it takes."