Lawmakers threaten to subpoena DCF over 3rd child death

//Lawmakers threaten to subpoena DCF over 3rd child death

Lawmakers threaten to subpoena DCF over 3rd child death

During the past week the committee has crisscrossed Vermont to hear testimony about DCF and associated programs.

The panel was formed after the February death of 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon. In April 14-month-old Peighton Geraw died just hours after a visit from a DCF caseworker.

Tuesday committee members said they were frustrated that they had not heard from the agency about whether or not a St. Johnsbury toddler was in the system when he died.

State Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, told WPTZ that his source told him the agency was involved with the child.

Others on the panel said they might subpoena DCF leaders to hear all the facts.

“We don’t need to know the details of every case, but we need to be able to understand that what we hear is the whole truth and that nothing is held back,” said State Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison.

Ayer and Sears co-chair the committee. Ayer said it’s commonplace for lawmakers to get updates from people they are overseeing.

“If something really goes awry in state government that’s in your area of jurisdiction usually the commissioner or secretary calls you up and says, ‘These things happened. We’re not talking about these things. We don’t know this. We do know this. And I’m sure a member of the press is going to call you,’” Ayer said.

At the ninth and final hearing Tuesday night, testifiers said DCF told the committee about what’s working and what isn’t.

“I feel that the humane society actually puts in more time researching a pet owner than the courts or DCF does in researching a parent,” said Kelly Davis-Vanzile.

Kathy O’Brien, a retired state social worker, said the agency never asked for input from those working cases.

“It’s not that we don’t have the thoughts. It’s not that we don’t have good ideas,” she said. “No one asks a social worker, ‘What would make your job more efficient, more sensitive to the public, to the clients?’ That is a major flaw.”

Ayer said the committee will take all the testimony into account as it looks at legislative tactics to improve the agency.

She said themes heard over the past week included the perceived lack of depth to investigations, lack of communication between DCF and other agencies like police, and the impact of the opiate epidemic on the system.

The committee said it will meet over the summer. During those sessions lawmakers hope to hear directly from DCF officials.

Sears said he hopes the committee can present some sort of legislation at the beginning of the legislative session in January.


By | 2016-10-25T17:47:06+00:00 June 12th, 2014|News|0 Comments