To the Editor:
Regards the article,"Panel hears testimony on protecting Vt children," by, associated press, the piece reads that state police director Tom L'Esperance said, a key shortcoming in the Dezirae child death case "was the failure to identify the actual offender who broke the child's leg" and that the child was abused by her step father and a a DCF official was told that the child was abused by the step father and he failed to inform the caseworker. The DCF Commissioner, David Yacavone, stated that confidentiality and caseworker workload are his concerns.
I do not believe this is the problem at DCF. As an former caseworker for Vt Social Services for 20 years my experience tells the problems lie elsewhere. While investigating child abuse reports police and state's attorneys are directly involved and aware of all details. Caseworker prepared court reports go to the court and are shared with state's attorney, lawyers, GAL and family members. So, confidentiality is not the problem. Failure on the part of DCF officials or others at the agency to inform a caseworker of vital information is incompetence and misconduct.
What's needed here is a complete evaluation of DCF by the American Humane association and recommendations for reorganization of the Dept. Hiring more caseworkers and supervisors for a dysfunctional child protection dept will not fix the problems. Yes, more staff are probably needed, but only after the evaluation is complete. Clinical supervision and evaluations of all staff, including caseworkers, supervisors, clerical, management, and all other staff is needed. Then training of all staff is required. Internal issues at child welfare departments, like harassment and sexual harassment occur due to a lack of training. These problems further exacerbate the problems that already exist. The entire process must occur, otherwise, it's just a band aid and will fix nothing.