The Vermont Parent Representation Center urged lawmakers to fund increased legal representation for parents.
They say the few attorneys in the system are so overloaded with cases that they can't make the right decisions for clients.
In a statement, DCF says it takes its mission seriously and wants to keep families together when safely possible. Their full statement is below:
"Over the last few years, DCF has seen a 30% increase in children coming into State’s custody (please see the attached annual child protection report), cases which are further complicated by the opiate epidemic.
We agree that there are complex issues surrounding the child welfare system. The legislature recognizes this as well and created the CHINS Reform Workgroup two years ago. The CHINS workgroup has provided recommendations to the legislature that include a Judicial Master pilot, sustained home visiting, a mediation initiative, and a study of the roles of those involved in the CHINS system. The legislature funded the CHINS system study, a study of home visiting approaches, and the judicial master pilot. We feel these are the best ways to assess and to begin to address our complex child protection system. The legislature also funded a review to be conducted by UVM on the numbers of children coming into state’s custody and we look forward to hearing this study’s recommendations and the continued discussions on CHINS reform in the upcoming legislative session.”