Our Executive Director, Mark Redmond, recently co-authored, with Kate Piper, a letter to the Vermont Legislative Committee on Child Protection. The committee has spent the past few months taking and reviewing testimony on the state’s child protection system.
Mark and Ms. Piper, with a combined 53 years of experience in the field of child protection and youth services, offer broad recommendations to improve the system.
Their letter outlines the excessive burden placed on DCF workers who are “faced with making difficult decisions with limited time and resources.” Mark and Kate then note that response rates from the Vermont DCF are the second-lowest in the country.
“It is imperative that [the DCF] start investigating far more of the calls that citizens make when they suspect a child is being abused or neglected.”
Mark and Kate draw attention to dismal safe reunification rates. Vermont has the sixth-worst record in the nation for the percent of children who re-entered foster care within 12 months of being reunified with their parents.
“The number of calls alleging abuse and neglect has [increased] 24 percent . . . So calls are going up, fewer children are being removed from homes, and the community supports aren’t there.”
They advocate for better investigations and training materials for ethics and risk assessment of these children’s lives, as well as for increased support for relatives of abused and neglected children:
“If we are going to ask relatives to step up and help with abused and neglected children, we have to provide them with much better support.”
Mark and Kate also address the dual-track Differential Response system in Vermont–the intention is that fewer children be removed from their homes, because more community support can be made available. However, they say, that’s not how it plays out.”The number of calls alleging abuse and neglect has [increased] 24 percent . . . So calls are going up, fewer children are being removed from homes, and the community supports aren’t there.”
Read the full editorial here.