Quantcast

Vt. lawmakers probe child protective services - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers probe child protective services

Posted: Updated:
Dezirae Sheldon Dezirae Sheldon
MONTPELIER, Vt. - The February death of 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon is the subject of a criminal and administrative investigation. Wednesday, lawmakers began looking into whether state child protection laws need an update.

"The history of abuse and involvement with the state's protective services has raised serious questions and concerns," said Sen. John Campbell, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.

Sheldon's stepfather is charged with her murder. Her mother lost custody of Dezirae last year, after she pleaded guilty to child cruelty for failing to get Dezirae prompt medical care for a broken leg.* Many wonder why social workers returned the child to the family months later.

"While this is certainly a tragedy and a horrific crime, the agency, the department, the division are dealing with many, many cases like this every day," Doug Racine said.

As secretary of the Agency of Human Services, Racine oversees the Department for Children and Families. He says social workers can always use more resources, but he does not believe Sheldon's case represents institutional failure.

"But bad things do happen and if there's something that can be done and we can learn out of this and you can learn out of this where we can do even better, than we would welcome that," Racine said.

"I know that we would love to say that this will never happen again. Unfortunately, I don't think that's reality," Campbell said.

Campbell says lawmakers can make a difference, but emphasized a focus on the system and child abuse cases generally, not just Sheldon's.

Lawmakers launched a similar investigation in 2009 following the Brooke Bennett tragedy. The look prompted a series of reform proposals, which became the first legislative act the next year. Bennett's case is just beginning to reach its conclusion and legislators noted that fact as a reason why they shouldn't wait for a verdict in the Sheldon case before considering changes.

*Editor's note: Authorities brought to our attention on June 26, 2014, that WCAX News previously reported Sandra Eastman was convicted of breaking Dezirae Sheldon's leg. That was incorrect. Eastman was convicted of child cruelty by medical neglect. We apologize for the error.

Related Stories:

Police investigate threats against DCF workers

Vigils planned for slain Vt. toddler

DCF workers threatened after toddler's death

Threats against DCF workers as Vt. launches probe into toddler's death

Shumlin orders investigation into Vt. toddler's death

Protest targets DCF in case of slain child

Volatile court hearing in murder of 2-year-old

Vermont's foster care system and claims of child abuse

Family of slain 2-year-old speak out

UPDATE : Police investigating Vt. toddler's death

Click here for complete coverage of the Brooke Bennett case.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • N.H. man killed in Lunenburg crash

    N.H. man killed in Lunenburg crash

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:33 PM EDT2014-09-02 03:33:55 GMT
    One man is dead following a tractor trailer rollover in Lunenburg.
    One man is dead following a tractor trailer rollover in Lunenburg.
  • 2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:15 PM EDT2014-09-02 02:15:25 GMT
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
  • Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:59:03 GMT
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
  • Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:08:26 GMT
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
  • Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:59 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:59:21 GMT
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
  • Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:52 GMT
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
  • Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:32:03 GMT
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
  • Body discovered in Massena

    Body discovered in Massena

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:02 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:02:43 GMT
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
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.