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Vt. Governor Orders Changes at DCF

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has ordered changes for the Vermont Department for Children and Families after the death of two toddlers who had been in its care.
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has ordered changes for the Vermont Department for Children and Families after the death of two toddlers who had been in its care.

Those who knew either two-year-old Dezirae Sheldon or 15-month-old Peighton Geraw say the state could have done more to protect the two from being killed.

"I do believe that we might not be in this situation if somebody had done something differently," says Megan Webbley, who knew Peighton.

On Wednesday, Shumlin called for changes in DCF.

"In both the cases of Dezirae and Peighton, we as a state have failed," says Shumlin.

While the governor would not talk specifically about those two cases, he says the number of child abuse investigations has doubled in the past five years. Shumlin partly blames drugs.

"Under the influence of opioids, people will do things to their children that are unimaginably horrid," says Shumlin.

The governor called for four changes to DCF:
  • adding 18 more social workers
  • requiring more review before kids who had been abused are returned to their parents
  • reorganizing DCF to focus more on kids
  • more training for workers
"They make tough calls, mistakes will be made. But I think we have to ask the question what can we do as a state to try and increase the odds of success and obviously the death of Dezirae and the death of Peighton should remind us that we have more work to do," says Shumlin.

Shumlin says the new social workers will start coming on board in July. They will be paid for through savings in other programs and federal funds.

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