For Immediate Release
October 12, 2022
BURLINGTON — Today, the Vermont Parent Representation Center (VPRC) announced the release of their latest report, Broken Systems/Broken Promises. The report follows a three-year case study of the processes and outcomes on the Vermont Department for Children and Families’ (DCF) substation process, which determines whether or not to place a person on the Child Protection Registry for child abuse or neglect. Placement on the Registry precludes one from employment, professional licensing, and volunteer activities related to children or agencies serving children.
This is the first independent test of the substation system, its efficacy, adherence to law, and the economic/social justice issues inherent in the system. While providing a key public safety function, the power vested in this system has the potential to do great harm when it is misdirected.
The report demonstrates conclusively that the system cannot accurately tell the difference between abusive and non-abusive parents; the result being a disservice to both children and parents alike. The report follows twenty-five appeals being represented by VPRC – which appears to be the largest number of appeals taken by any one entity over a comparable period of time. These appeals were not pre-selected or otherwise curated but were rather the result of families who had no resources to pursue an appeal on their own. Incredibly, all twenty-five appeals resulted in the DCF substantiation being overturned or withdrawn by DCF – an unprecedented 100% success rate.
The resultant outcomes, data, findings and recommendations demonstrate that the current system is broken in virtually every respect and presents an expensive and destructive disservice to children, families, and the state workers who are charged with making the system work. Especially harmed are those economically challenged single heads of household, typically women. It is, in practice, a bureaucratic system that operates largely without oversight or quality assurance and cannot distinguish between those who abuse children and those simply trying to parent a child in today’s complex world. The full report and more information can be found at VTPRC.org.
Vermont Parent Representation Center is a not-for-profit law, social work, and public policy organization whose mission is to ensure that children who can live safely with their parents are afforded a real opportunity to do so. More information about VPRC can be found at www.VTPRC.org/about-us.