Advocates call for reforms to Vt. child protective services

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Critics of Vermont's Child Protective Services system are calling for reform to protect both children and their parents.

At a child protection oversight committee meeting at the Statehouse on Thursday, the Vermont Parent Representation Center urged lawmakers to fund increased legal representation for parents.

They say the few attorneys assigned to parents in the system are so overloaded with cases that they can't make the right decisions for their clients.

The parents group says the Legislature should also bring in a third party to investigate their claims of mismanagement.

"The first step in all of this is people have to believe these problems are real and the only way to do that is bring someone in, a little bit of money, a little bit of time, and prove it," said Bill Young, a former Department for Children and Families commissioner.

They also urge greater transparency and accountability within the system.

Young says hearing officers and DCF staff have engaged in improper discussions during Human Services board appeals.

All of this is happening while a lawsuit currently hangs over DCF, alleging the organization separated a family without a full investigation.

The state's Child Protective Services has been under the microscope in recent years after the killing of a social worker in 2015 and the high-profile death of two toddlers the next year.