A prominent Vermont doctor will lead the investigation into practices at the Vermont Department for Children and Families after the death of a Poultney toddler. The toddler's family says the department ignored warnings.
Meanwhile, reaction is verging on violent in Rutland, where police tell us DCF employees found threatening notes left on their cars.
Current and former administrators say when you receive thousands of reports of child abuse-- about one
every 33 minutes according to current data-- tragedies are bound to happen. They say even in the absence of a bureaucratic mistake, the results keep social workers up at night.
Vermont Agency of Human Services Secretary Doug Racine says he doesn't know if the death of 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon represents a lapse in the state's child protection services. Despite a conviction of Sheldon's mother for child abuse, Dezirae landed back in her care. Now, stepfather Dennis Duby is charged with murdering the toddler.
"These things are not supposed to happen and it's obviously very tragic and sad when they do," Racine said.
The Department for Children and Families will conduct its own investigation, but the independent Vermont Citizen's Advisory Board will be charged with reviewing it.
"It's a group that is not connected with state government. They will use some of our state government folks for information, because they have to gather the information, but it's a citizens group with some expertise in looking at child protection statutes policies and decisions," Racine explained.
Prominent pediatrician Dr. Joseph Hagan of Burlington chairs the currently 14-member advisory board. The group meets quarterly but also has a federal mandate to investigate individual cases like Sheldon's when they arise. Hagan and the rest of the board are expected to begin examining the case next week.
"I know from my own experience over 18 years, that sooner or later, no matter how good a job you do, you're going to experience one of these," said Bill Young, who previously oversaw the department now known as DCF.
Reporter Kyle Midura: Are there cases that still keep you up at night?
Bill Young: Oh, yes.
In 2001, police found a child in state custody dead in New York City, and the department appeared to have no knowledge she was involved in prostitution. Though he can't address her case specifically because of confidentiality requirements, Young says reviews are essential to restore the public's faith.
"Maybe you did everything right and it still went wrong," he said. "Well, then is there something else we could be doing."
Young says if that is the case, it's up to the governor and legislators to act as well.
The VCAB may also split into a subcommittee or add more members before it begins its work. That's because three of the current members are state employees, though not with DCF.
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:31 AM EST2014-03-08 13:31:36 GMT
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. His office says Governor Peter Shumlin will be at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. While theMore >>
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:17 AM EST2014-03-08 13:17:30 GMT
We have some ideas for your Saturday. IRISH FESTIVAL The 19th annual Burlington Irish Heritage Festival kicks off today. There is a lecture about the role of Irish immigrants in the Civil War at theMore >>
Friday, March 7 2014 7:28 PM EST2014-03-08 00:28:44 GMT
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there. More >>
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there.More >>