Lawmakers, advocates call for new office to protect children

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Lawmakers and advocates are calling on the state of Vermont to create a new position to protect children.

They want the state to establish an Office of the Child Advocate to provide independent and impartial oversight of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Foster parent Anne Ward says the position is needed to help prevent kids from experiencing further trauma when placed in foster homes.

Former foster child Nate Farnham says the complaints he made to the Department for Children and Families as a child were often ignored, so he faced continued emotional and physical abuse.

"To have a child advocate and to have an ombudsman in the state of Vermont would help dramatically increase the amount of investigations that are conducted and it would help dramatically increase the screening of good foster parents and good homes," Farnham said.

"The Office of Child Advocate could determine where we go wrong and how to make sure that the very people who are trying to help aren't adding more trauma. They can point us in the direction of prevention, resilience and healing," Ward said.

The bill, H.215, was just introduced and is not assigned to a committee yet.