Quantcast

YCQM: March 2, 2014 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: March 2, 2014

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

GOOD MORNING. WE ARE TALKING WITH HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY DOUG RACINE. WE WILL TALK ABOUT OPIATE ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH CARE IN VERMONT. BUT TRAGIC NEWS, THE DEATH OF A TWO-YEAR-OLD GIRL ALLEGEDLY KILLED BY HER STEPFATHER. THEY WARNED THE STATE THE TODDLER WAS IN DANGER BUT SHE RETURNED TO HOME TO FACE MORE ABUSE.

>>> DOZENS OF PARENTS AND CONCERNED CITIZENS GATHERED OUTSIDE THE OFFICE OF VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF FAMILIES AND CHILDREN IN WETLAND. AFTER THE TWO-YEAR-OLD WAS ALLEGEDLY MURDERED BY HER STEPFATHER.

>> PAY ATTENTION TO THE SIGNS.

>> THOSE SIGNS INCLUDE AN INVESTIGATION LAST YEAR INTO THE MOTHER SANDRA EASTMAN. SHE WAS CONVICTED OF BREAKING THE BABY'S LEG AND WAITING FOR A WEEK FOR MEDICAL CARE. SHE SAID PLACED ON PROBATION AND FAMILY SAYS TWO AND A HALF MONTHS LATER SHE GOT HER DAUGHTER BACK. A DECISION THAT COST HER TODDLER HER LIFE.

>> HER WHOLE FACE WAS BRUISED. I LOOKED AT THEM WHAT HAPPENED. I SAID THAT IS NOT FROM A FALL. HER WHOLE FACE IS BRUISED.

>> THEY CLAIMED THEY BEGGED THE COURT TO TERMINATE HER PARENTAL RIGHTS BUT ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE WERE IGNORED.

>> SHE IS GOING TO KILL HER. SHE IS GOING TO DIE. I KNOW IT. I KNOW IT. NOBODY LISTENED.

>> COMMISSIONER INVITED THE FAMILY INSIDE TO SPEAK WITH HIM PRIVATELY.

>> I WANT TO MEET FACE TO FACE WITH THE FAMILY MEMBERS. I WANT TO LISTEN TO THEM. I WANT TO SHARE WITH THEM MY FIRM INTENT TO MAKE SURE THAT A VERY THOROUGH REVIEW IS DONE OF THIS.

>> HE CAN'T PUBLICLY DISCUSS THE DETAILS OF THE CASE BUT SHE IS DEEPLY SORRY FOR THE FAMILY'S PAIN.

>> I DON'T THINK THERE IS ANY WAY I CAN PROPERLY CONVEY THE SORROW I FEEL.

>> THE COMMISSIONER SAYS DCS GETS 16,000 CALLS EVERY YEAR ULTIMATELY CUSTODY IS DECIDED BY A JUDGE AFTER INPUT FROM CASEWORKERS AND THE STATE'S ATTORNEY'S OFFICE.

>> IT'S IMPORTANT TO KNOW THERE IS A CHECK AND BALANCE. THIS IS NOT INDIVIDUAL STATE EMPLOYEES MAKING A DECISION OF WHAT IS RIGHT OR WHAT IS WRONG. THERE IS AN EXTENSIVE REVIEW PROCESS TO MAKE SURE.

>> A REVIEW PROCESS THE FEMALE SAYS FAILED. IN THEIR MINDS, EASTMAN IS JUST AS GUILTY AS THE MAN ACCUSED OF SQUEEZING THE TODDLER'S HEAD INTO A CRACK.

>> SHE HAD EVERY RIGHT TO PROTECT HER BABY AND SHE DIDN'T DO IT.

>> THAT IS NOT THE ONLY CHILD THEY LOST CUSTODY OF. SHE SPENT FIVE MONTHS BEHIND BARS FOR MOLESTING A BOY AND GETTING PREGNANT. AND SHE HAS A ONE MONTH OLD DAUGHTER WHO IS ALSO IN STATE CUSTODY.

>>> JUST A HEARTBREAKING STORY. SECRETARY RACINE THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT THIS. AND WHY DON'T YOU START THE CONVERSATION.

>> TALKING ABOUT WHAT THIS INVESTIGATION INTO THE PROCESS BEHIND THESE CHILD ABUSE CASES AND HOW WE MOVE FORWARD AND POTENTIALLY TAKING THE CHILD OUT OF PARENT'S CUSTODY. THINGS COULD CHANGE IN THE INTERIM.

>> THINGS ARE UNFOLDING AND PROBABLY WILL BETWEEN NOW AND SUNDAY. FIRST OF ALL ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNOR AND ALL OF US WHO ARE CHARGED WITH PROTECTING VERMONT'S CHILDREN. WE WANT TO EXPRESS OUR DEEP SADNESS. THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN AND VERY TRAGIC AND SAD WHEN THEY DO. IN THE CLIP YOU JUST SHOWED A LOT OF EMOTION ON THE PART OF PEOPLE WHO CARED ABOUT THIS LITTLE GIRL. AS WE ALL DO. WHEN SOMETHING LIKES THIS HAPPENS WE HAVE TO LOOK HOW PROCESSES WERE DONE AND BAD ADDITIONS DECISIONS WERE MADE AND AS WE GO ALONG IN A CASE LIKE THIS AND WE DEAL WITH HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF CASES EVERY YEAR AND THOUSANDS OF REPORTS. SO THE FIRST THING THAT HAPPENS AS COMMISSIONER WAS TALKING ABOUT, WE HAVE TO LOOK INTERNALLY. THE DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES WILL CONDUCT THEIR OWN INVESTIGATION AND TALK TO THE EMPLOYEES INVOLVED AND MAKE SURE THAT THE PROPER PROCESSES WERE FOLLOWED. WE HAVE TO CORRECT THOSE MISTAKES TO AVOID A SITUATION LIKE THIS IN THE FUTURE. INITIALLY PROPER POLICIES WERE FOLLOWED AND I DON'T WANT TO JUDGE IN THE JUDGMENTS THAT WERE MADE. THERE ARE TOUGH QUESTIONS. AFTER THAT, THE GOVERNOR AS CHARGED ME WITH MAKING SURE WE HAVE A THOROUGH OH INDEPENDENT EXTERNAL REVIEW OF WHATEVER FOUND ON THEIR OWN AND ASK QUESTIONS. THERE ARE COUPLE WAYS OF PROCEEDING. IT'S VERY LIKELY WE'LL GO TO AN OUTSIDE GROUP THAT IS ESTABLISHED BY FEDERAL LAW TO LOOK AT CASES LIKE THIS. THAT IS AN APPROPRIATE PLACE FOR AN EXTERNAL REVIEW TO OCCUR. IT'S NOT CONNECTED WITH STATE GOVERNMENT. THEY WILL USE SOME OF OUR STATE GOVERNMENT FOLKS FOR INFORMATION. THEY HAVE TO GATHER THE INFORMATION BUT IT'S A SAFETY GROUP WITH SOME EXPERTISE AT LOOKING AT STATUTES AND POLICIES AND DECISIONS. THERE IS ANOTHER OPTION THAT HAS BEEN USED IN THE PAST. THE SECRETARY HAS IMPANELED A SMALL GROUP TO TAKE AN INDEPENDENT LOOK. IT'S MORE LIKELY WE'LL GO WITH THE GROUP THAT IS ESTABLISHED BY LAW AND LOOKING AT CASES LIKE THIS AND ASKING VERY TOUGH QUESTIONS.

>> WHEN THE GOVERNOR CALLED FOR THERE INVESTIGATION HE TOLD THEM ABOUT IT. LET'S LISTEN WHAT TO WHAT HE HAD TO SAY.

>> AS SOON AS I HEARD ABOUT IT, I ASKED FOR THE INVESTIGATION AND WE ALWAYS DO AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION BUT I ASKED SECRETARY RACINE TO CONDUCTING AN EXTERNAL INVESTIGATION TO FIND OUT WHAT WE COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY. WE'RE GOING TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO UNDERSTAND HOW WE CAN DO BETTER NEXT TIME.

>> THE GOVERNOR DOESN'T NECESSARILY GET EMOTIONAL ABOUT TOPICS BUT CLEARLY HE HAS BEEN RATTLED BY THIS CASE. WHEN HE TALKS ABOUT CRIMINAL CHARGES, WHO IS HE REFERRING TO? COULD ANYONE IN DCS OR JUDICIAL SYSTEM BE HELD RESPONSIBLE IN ANY WAY?

>> ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN AS A RESULT OF THE INVESTIGATION. I DON'T THINK THAT IS VERY LIKELY. WHAT HE IS REFERRING TO CRIMINAL CHARGES IN THIS CASE THE STEPFATHER. THEY THOUGHT THERE WAS ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO HAVE HIM ARRESTED FOR THIS CRIME. SO WE HAVE TO STARTED WITH THAT. THE STATE'S ATTORNEY AND POLICE HAVE TO DO THEIR INVESTIGATION AND HAVE THE PROCESS PLAY OUT. THAT IS OUTSIDE THE PURVIEW OF THE GOVERNOR AND HUMAN SERVICES. ITS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, THERE WILL BE A JUDICIAL PROCESS WE USE TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE INDIVIDUAL IS GUILTY OR NOT. THERE IS A LOT OF EFFORT AND EMOTION HERE TO PLACE BLAME. I UNDERSTAND THAT. I THINK WE HAVE TO START WITH FINDING OUT THE INDIVIDUAL WHO ACTUALLY COMMITTED THIS CRIME. THAT IS WHERE THE BLAME LIES. IF THERE ARE THINGS THE STATE HAS DONE IN THIS PROCESS OR ANYWHERE IN THE PROCESS, IT'S A PROCESS THAT IS INVOLVED IN BRINGING A CHILD INTO CUSTODY OR RETURNING A CHILD TO A FAMILY FOR PROBLEMS OF THAT WE NEED TO ADDRESS THOSE, AS WELL.

>> AND SECRETARY, CAN WE TALK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THAT. I THINK THERE IS A MISUNDERSTANDING FROM SOME FOLKS AT HOME WHO REALLY SEE THIS AS A DCS ISSUE BUT THERE ARE NUMEROUS AGENCIES AND BRANCHES THAT DEAL WITH REMOVING THE CHILD OR PUTTING A CHILD BACK IN A HOME. EXPLAIN THE PROCESS?

>> IT STARTS WITH A REPORT OF ABUSE OR NEGLECT THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES WILL GO AND INVESTIGATE. IF THEY SUBSTANTIATE THAT AND SERIOUS ENOUGH THAT THE CHILD SHOULD BE TAKEN OUT OF THE HOME AND INTO THE CUSTODY OF THE STATE, THEY WILL MAKE THAT RECOMMENDATION AND THEY WILL GO TO COURT. THE JUDGE ULTIMATELY DETERMINES WHETHER THE STATE WILL TAKE CUSTODY OR NOT IF THE CHILD IS IN CUSTODY THE JUDGE WILL DECIDE WHETHER THE CHILD SHOULD BE RETURNED TO THE FAMILY. THE CHILD GETS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM TO REPRESENT THE CHILD'S INTERESTS. THE CHILD WILL HAVE AN ATTORNEY TO PROTECT THEIR LEGAL INTERESTS. THE FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE ATTORNEYS PRESENT OR TO BE PRESENT IN THE JUDICIAL PROCESS. THE STATE ATTORNEY IS USUALLY INVOLVED AND JUDGE WILL LOOK AT RECOMMENDATIONS AND THE RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE VARIOUS PARTIES TO MAKE THE ULTIMATE DECISION. THAT PROCESS IS PART OF IT. IT'S PART OF WHAT GOES INTO THE CASE LIKE THIS. CLEARLY IT STARTS WITH THE RECOMMENDATION AND WE'LL LOOK WHAT THE DEPARTMENT SAYS. IF THERE ARE OTHER PLAYERS IN THE PROCESS AND IT'S A JUDGE THAT DECIDES.

>> WE HEARD WARNINGS FROM FAMILY MEMBERS, WE CONTACTED THE STATE. SHE WAS ALREADY BACK IN THE MOTHER'S AND STEPFATHER'S CUSTODY. HOW RARE IS IT TO HEAR FROM CONCERNED FAMILY MEMBERS IN THESE CASES?

>> A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL TALK TO THE DEPARTMENT AND WILL CALL IN AND EXPRESS CONCERNS. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC CASE. FRANKLY IF I DID, I COULDN'T TALK TO YOU ABOUT THE DETAILS. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TRANSPIRED WHEN THESE FAMILY MEMBERS WE SAW IN THE CLIP WHEN THEY TALKED TO THE DEPARTMENT OR WHO THEY TALKED TO IN THE DEPARTMENT. THERE ARE A LOT OF FOLKS THAT MIGHT HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. THE WAY IT WORKS IT'S AGAINST STATUTES IN THE DEPARTMENT AND TAKE ALL THE INFORMATION THEY HAVE, BUT THERE ARE OTHER FOLKS THAT ARE REPRESENTING INTERESTS OF THE CHILD THAT ARE INVOLVED IN THIS PROCESS, AS WELL. THEY MAY HAVE HEARD FROM THE FAMILY MEMBERS, AS WELL.

>> CAN YOU GIVE US AN IDEA THE SCALE OF HOW MANY CASES LOOK AT OR DEPARTMENT LOOKS AT IN A GIVEN YEAR?

>> THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF REPORTS THAT ARE INVESTIGATED. WE HAVE HUNDRED CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 18 HOE ARE IN THE CUSTODY OF THE STATE TODAY. A LOST CHILDREN COME IN FOR WHILE AND THEN REUNIFIED WITH THEIR FAMILIES. OTHERS STAY IN FOSTER CARE AND OTHERS GO ON AND ARE ADOPTED BY FAMILIES. IT'S NOT UNUSUAL FOR CHILDREN TO COME INTO THE CUSTODY AND GO BACK INTO THEIR FAMILIES. LAST YEAR FOR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF SIX, WHO CAME TO OUR CUSTODY, ABOUT 40% EVENTUALLY WERE REUNITED WITH THEIR FAMILIES. WE DO TRY TO KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER. WE TRY TO WORK WITH FAMILIES. IT DEPENDS ON THE SEVERITY OF THE INCIDENT THAT BROUGHT THE CHILD INTO CUSTODY. IT DEPENDS ON WHAT IS HAPPENING TO FIX THE FAMILY SITUATION, BUT EVERY STATE IN THE COUNTRY DOES THIS. WE TRY TO KEEP FAMILIES INTACT. IN THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES THAT IS BEST PLACE FOR A CHILD TO BE AND THAT IS WHAT WE TRY TO DO IN MAKING SURE THE SITUATION MIGHT HAVE PRECIPITATED THE ORIGINAL CUSTODY IS NO LONGER THERE. THEY ARE JUDGMENT CALLS. IT'S IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THEY ARE JUDGMENT CALLS WHETHER IT BE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES OR ATTORNEYS OR THE JUDGMENTS. WE'RE TRYING TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR THE CHILDREN AND OBVIOUSLY IN THIS CASE, SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINES THE CHILD WAS IN A SITUATION THAT WAS DANGEROUS AND FATAL. THAT IS WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT. THAT IS WHY IT MAKES IT SO DIFFICULT. SOMETIMES YOU CAN'T PREDICT THESE TYPES OF THINGS. BAD THINGS, INDEED, HAPPEN. I DON'T KNOW IF SOMETHING ELSE SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE.

>> THAT THE FRUSTRATION, THEY ARE HEARING ABOUT THIS LITTLE GIRL'S MOTHER HISTORY. SHE ALLEGEDLY BROKE HER LEG AND DIDN'T SEEK TREATMENT FOR THAT. HAD HER OTHER CHILDREN TAKEN AWAY FROM HER. WHY WAS THIS CHILD PUT BACK IN THIS HOME AND ENDED UP IN THIS TERRIBLE TRAGEDY?

>> I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT TODAY. THAT IS WHAT THE WHOLE INVESTIGATION WILL LOOK AT BECAUSE IF THE DEPARTMENT MISSED SOMETHING, PERHAPS SO DID THE GUARDIANS AND SO DID THE ATTORNEYS AND SO DID THE JUDGE. WE NEED TO LOOK AT WHAT INFORMATION WAS AVAILABLE AND THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE IN THIS CASE. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF CASES LIKE THIS EVERY YEAR. IT'S DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND THERE ARE MULTIPLE COMPLAINTS THAT I HAVE RECEIVED FROM CITIZENS ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OVER THE YEARS. LEGISLATORS AND FROM THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AND FRANKLY ON THE OTHER SIDE. THE STATE IS TAKING A CHILD TOO QUICK INTO CUSTODY AND NOT HELPING THE FAMILY. WE GET IT FROM BOTH SIDES AND THESE ARE TOUGH JUDGMENT CALLS.

>> ARE CASEWORKERS OVERLOADED AND DO WE HAVE ENOUGH GOOD FOSTER HOMES IN THE STATE?

>> WE STRUGGLE WITH FINDING FOSTER FAMILIES. IT'S VERY DIFFICULT FOR FAMILIES TO DO IT. IT'S ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE GROUPS I WORK WITH WHEN I MEET WITH FOSTER PARENTS. THESE FOLKS ARE PEOPLE THAT CARE ABOUT KIDS AND ARE WILLING TO TAKE CHILDREN IN UNDER DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES. GOD BLESS THEM. I WISH THERE WERE MORE OF THEM. WE DO FIND GOOD FOSTER HOMES FOR OUR CHILDREN.

>> WHAT ABOUT CASEWORKERS, OVERLOADED?

>> THEY HAVE HIGH CASE LOADS. WE TRY TO ADDRESS THAT SINCE THE GOVERNOR CAME INTO OFFICE. WE'VE ADDED SOCIAL WORKERS TO THE DEPARTMENT. WE WERE CONCERNED BECAUSE OF BUDGET CUTS THAT HAPPENED IN PREVIOUS YEARS THAT WE WERE NOT DOING THE JOB WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DO IN TERMS OF THE INVESTIGATION AND CHECKING ON OUR CHILDREN WHO ARE IN CUSTODY AND IN FOSTER CARE. WE ADDED 27 CASEWORKERS. IF YOU TALKED TO SOME OF THE INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED THEIR CASE LOADS ARE STILL TOO HIGH. NOTHING I'VE SEEN OR HEARD ABOUT THIS CASE WOULD SUGGEST THAT WAS PART OF THE PROBLEM. THESE ARE DIFFICULT CASES AND WE TRY TO WORK CLOSELY WITH FAMILIES. WE SEE A LOT OF SITUATIONS WHERE THERE HAVEN'T BEEN ABUSE OR NEGLECT BUT WE HAVE BEEN CALLED IN AND THERE IS NO REASON TO TAKE A CHILD INTO CUSTODY, BUT TO BE CONCERNED WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE HOME. TO TRY TO GET THEM TO A BETTER PLACE TO PREVENT ABUSE FROM OCCURRING. SO THERE IS PROBABLY NO PLACE WHERE THE STATE GOVERNMENT COULD USE A FEW MORE PEOPLE BUT THE FOLKS WHO ARE DOING THE WORK HAVE MADE THE CASE THEY NEEDED MORE. WE'VE ADDED MORE. THEY ARE DOING A GOOD JOB.

>> SECRETARY, WE NEED TO TAKE A QUICK BREAK. A LOT MORE TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

>>> WELCOME BACK. WE ARE TALKING WITH SECRETARY RACINE THIS MORNING. WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THE CASE OF THE GIRL THAT DIED. THE STEPFATHER IS CHARGED WITH HER ALLEGED MURDER. WHAT ARE THE ISSUES THE JUDGES AND SOCIAL WORKERS WHEN YOU GO BACK TO PLACE A CHILD WITH A FAMILY, WHAT HAPPENS HOW LONG ARE THEY TYPICALLY AWAY. YOU MENTIONED ABOUT 40% GOES BACK BUT WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS FOR RETURNING THE CHILD?

>> THE CONSIDERATIONS WOULD BE AS THE SITUATION CHANGED DRAMATICALLY ENOUGH IN THE HOME IT'S NOW CONSIDERED SAFE AND HEALTHY FOR THE CHILD TO BE BACK IN THE HOME. JUDGMENT CALLS HAVE TO BE MADE. I MENTIONED THAT 40% OF CASES CHILDREN UNDER SIX THEY ARE REUNITED. AVERAGE LENGTH OF STAY FOR CHILDREN IN CUSTODY IS AROUND SIX MONTHS. THAT ALSO MEANS 60% OF THOSE CHILDREN THAT DO NOT GO BACK IN THEIR FAMILIES BECAUSE THE SITUATIONS WERE SERIOUS ENOUGH FOR THE CHILD TO COME INTO THE CUSTODY OF THE STATE BUT HAVING CHANGED IT WOULD BE SAFE FOR THAT CHILD TO GO BACK TO HOME. WE ARE DEALING WITH ABUSE AND NEGLECT AND THOSE ARE THE CRITERIA WE LOOK AT. THEY CAN BE CAUSED BY A VARIETY OF THINGS. IT CAN BE A SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM OR SOMEONE ELSE LIVING IN THE HOUSE. IN THE CASE WHERE THE SITUATION HAS CHANGED AND THAT INDIVIDUAL MAY NOT BE AT HOME ANYMORE THE SITUATION HAS CHANGED ENOUGH AND PERHAPS IT'S OKAY FOR THE CHILD TO GO BACK.

>> DO YOU HAVE ANY WAY OF KNOWING 40% OF THE CHILDREN RE-ENTER THE SYSTEM AGAIN?

>> I DON'T HAVE THAT INFORMATION. I WOULD IMAGINE IT DOES HAPPEN, BUT I DON'T KNOW THE NUMBERS.

>> LET'S TALK ABOUT THE INVESTIGATION. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? DO WE HAVE A TIME FRAME WHEN WE'LL GET SOME ANSWERS?

>> I HOPE WE GET ANSWERS FROM THE DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES FAIRLY SOON. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE TIME FRAME FROM THE EXTERNAL REVIEW. THERE IS A CHAIR A LOCAL PEDIATRICIAN. I HAVEN'T MADE CONTACT WITH HIM YET BECAUSE HE IS OUT AT THE STATE AT THE MOMENT. IF WE GO THAT ROUTE AND USE THAT PANEL WE'LL TRY TO GET THEM TO MEET SOONER. IT'S GOING TO BE UP TO THEM TO SEE WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION THEY NEED AND HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE. COMPLICATING FACTOR IS THE PARALLEL CRIMINAL CASE INVOLVED. THAT WILL BE UP TO THE STATE'S ATTORNEY TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS.

>> AND DOESN'T JUST OVERSEE THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, LAST YEAR WITH FEDERAL SEQUESTRATION SOME OF VERMONT'S SAFETY NET SEEMED TO BE ERODING. WHAT IS IT FOR LOW INCOME VERMONTERS?

>> WE WANT TO KEEP THE SAFETY NET INTACT. THE PROGRAM I'VE SEEN CUTS IN RECENT YEARS AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. THAT IS SHREDDING OF THE SAFETY NET FOR U.S. CITIZENS. WE TRY TO BACK THAT WITH STATE DOLLARS. SO THAT COMMITMENT HAS BEEN MET. THERE ARE SOME THINGS WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO DO FROM THE CUTS OF FOOD STAMPS IN VERMONT BUT I'M CONCERNED ABOUT IT. I THINK WE SHOULD ALL BE CONCERNED ABOUT IT. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS SHIFTED THE FOCUS AWAY FROM SUPPORTING LOW INCOME CITIZENS AND MORE OF THAT BURDEN IS FOLLOWING ON THE STATES AND THEY HAVE LIMITED RESOURCES, AS WELL. WE'LL DO THE BEST WE CAN, BUT I AM CONCERNED ABOUT THE GROWTH IN POVERTY NATIONALLY AND WHAT WE ARE SEEING IN THE STATE, NUMBER OF FAMILIES IN HOMELESSNESS IN VERMONT. WE ARE MAKING SURE PEOPLE HAVE THE BASICS THEY NEED FOR SURVIVAL. IT SEEMS TO GET WORSE AT FEDERAL LEVEL.

>> ANOTHER HUGE CHALLENGE FOR YOU AND YOUR AGENCY MENTAL HEALTH CARE IN THE STATE OF VERMONT. WE LOST A STATE HOSPITAL WHAT WAS TROPICAL STORM IRENE IN THE STATE. WHAT IS THE PROGRESS ON THIS SO FAR?

>> WE'VE MADE GREAT PROGRESS BUT CONTINUE TO SCRAMBLE, WE WO CONTINUED TO BE IN A CRISIS SITUATION. WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT SHOULD BE IN THE HOSPITAL THAT ARE BACKED UP IN EMERGENCY ROOMS. SOME HAVE ENDED UP IN CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES WHERE THEY NEED TO BE IN THE HOSPITAL. WE STILL DON'T HAVE ENOUGH BEDS. PROGRESS WE ARE MAKING NEW STATE HOSPITAL WHICH IS ALREADY COMPLETED. IT HAS TO GO THROUGH THE LICENSING PROCESS AND HIRING A NEW STAFF TO HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE TO TREAT THE 25 PATIENTS THAT WILL BE THERE. WE HOPE BY JULY 1st, THAT IS OUR TARGET DATE, BUT CERTAINLY OUR TARGET AND ALL OF OUR EFFORTS ARE AIMED TO COMPLETING THAT HOSPITAL. THAT WILL TAKE A LOT OF PRESSURE OFF THE SYSTEM. WE BUILT A BETTER SYSTEM. WE SHOULD BE PROUD HOW WE ARE TREATING OUR FELLOW CITIZENS WHO HAVE MENTAL ILLNESS ISSUES, MENTAL HEALTH CENTERS AROUND THE STATE. WE HAVE BUILT THROUGH THE PROCESS THE CLOSURE OF THE STATE HOSPITAL A STRONGER COMMUNITY SYSTEM, MORE TREATMENT OPTIONS OFFERING INDIVIDUALS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS. SO WHEN IT IS SERIOUS IN THEIR ILLNESS THEY HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL AND FOR THOSE THAT DO WE CAN GET THEM OUT SOONER AND GET THEM BACK INTO COMMUNITY SETINGS.

>> THE LEGISLATURE IS WORKING ON INVOLUNTARY TREATMENT AND INVOLUNTARY MEDICATION. WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN INSIDE ONE OF THESE FACILITIES?

>> PROCESS WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH WHEN SOMEBODY IS NOT WANTING TREATMENT. IF THEY DON'T WANT HOSPITALIZATION THERE IS A PROCESS WE GO THROUGH TO PROTECT THEIR RIGHTS BEFORE WE CAN INVOLUNTARY HOSPITALIZE THEM. THERE IS ANOTHER PROCESS BEFORE YOU CAN TREAT THEM WITH MEDICATIONS. THE TWO PROCESSES RUN ONE AFTER THE OTHER. IT CAN TAKE UP TO 60 DAYS OR LONGER BEFORE SOMEBODY IS ACTUALLY IN THE HOSPITAL AND BEING TREATED. WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IN CONJUNCTION WITH A LOT OF OTHER HOSPITALS IS SPEED THE PROCESS UP. NOT TAKE AWAY PROTECTIONS THAT PEOPLE HAVE BUT HAVE THE PROCESSES OCCUR AT THE SAME TIME AND THE DECISION FOR MEDICATION. A LOT OF FOLKS DON'T WANT US TO DO THAT BUT THAT IS WHAT THE LEGISLATURE IS WORKING THROUGH AS A MATTER OF STATE POLICY. THE GOVERNOR FEEL AND I FEEL AND THOSE OF US IN THE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH WE NEED TO SPEED UP FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE SERIOUSLY ILL FOR TREATMENT BUT YOU RUN INTO CIVIL RIGHTS AND IF THEY ARE NOT ACCEPTING THAT TREATMENT. WE ARE TRYING TO FIND THE RIGHT BALANCE SO PEOPLE CAN GET BETTER. WE ALSO ARE PROTECTIVE OF THEIR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.

>> LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE GOVERNOR SIGNED A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT GIVING MORE MONEY TO TREATMENT CENTERS. HOW CRITICAL IS THIS?

>> THIS IS CRITICAL. IT'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT TO FOCUS ATTENTION TO THAT. IT'S A SERIOUS PROBLEM IN THE STATE. I TALKED TO POLICE OFFICER OUT THERE AND THERE IS A LOT OF CRIME CONNECTED WITH ADDICTION AND THERE ARE ADDICTS SEEKING TREATMENT. THE GOVERNOR SET OUTS THE PATH TO DO THAT. THERE WAS MONEY TO SPEED UP OUR ABILITY TO PROVIDE PEOPLE WITH THE TREATMENT TO GET RID OF THE WAITING LISTS. THERE IS A SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT BEING MADE IN THE BUDGET THAT WILL START ON JULY 1st. WE'RE DOING EVERYTHING FROM EARLY SCREENINGS TO RECOVERY CENTERS. WE ARE TRYING TO BEEF UP THE SYSTEM AND PROVIDE A PATH AWAY FROM THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR PEOPLE THAT HAVE COMMITTED PERHAPS MINOR CRIME AS A RESULT OF ADDICTION AND GET THEM THROUGH TREATMENT AND DEAL WITH IT AS A HEALTH PROBLEM SO WE CAN GET SOME OF THESE THINGS BEFORE THEY DEVELOP INTO HARDENED CRIMINALS.

>> WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT AT THAT. SECRETARY RACINE, WE APPRECIATE YOUR INSIGHT.

>> THANK YOU FOR WATCHING AT HOME. WE'LL SEE YOU SOON.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.