Challenge to the DCF status quo
Item: “Records filed by Vermont State Police investigators indicate the mother wasn’t at her College Street home in Poultney when the toddler was fatally injured.” Who placed the 911 call?
Item: “Eastman . . . was placed on probation and ordered to participate in violence counseling for anger management” after she was “charged with abusing her daughter in March 2013 after Dezirae was treated for broken bones in both legs.” Anger management programs don’t work.
Item: “Eastman was also convicted in 2008 of a felony count of lewd and lascivious conduct. ... She received an 18-month-to-seven-year sentence which was all suspended and she was placed on probation.” Vermont judges have an unfortunate habit of letting the offender off with a slap on the wrist and a meaningless promise to do better.
Item: “We just want to know what might be going on that’s hampering their ability to protect children.” We need caseworkers who can view the world through a child’s eyes.
Item: (editorial, Wed. Feb. 26) “... budget cuts reaching back into the last decade have taken a serious toll on staffing at the Agency of Human Services . . .” No excuse! Don’t make this a political football to squeeze more federal dollars out of an already obstinate Congress. Vermont should use its own money for its own people. First priority: hire people who are fully present to what they’re doing.
Item: “She said, ‘Oh, all kids do that,’ and that was it.” A stunningly callous statement. Did she not know what she was saying? It is a fact that small children cling to safety, crying, in the presence of what they perceive as a clear and present danger.
“And a little child shall lead them ...”
to family, DCF
I am writing in support of State’s Attorney Michael Kainen’s remarks in Sunday’s Rutland Herald. Mr. Kainen concluded, “Dezirae’s death was a horrible tragedy. But rushing to blame dedicated social workers who are overworked and under-resourced is hardly constructive.”
My condolences go out to Dezirae’s family as well as the workers at DCF.
Imagine being a worker at DCF, an agency that only makes the news when horrific tragedies occur. “Another successful adoption,” or “Teen placed in safe home” are headlines that you will never see in the paper, since everything you do is protected by privacy provisions.
Federal and state laws mandate that every effort be made to return children in custody to their biological parents. Proof of abuse is hard to establish, and the same people who will vilify you when tragedy occurs don’t want to stick their necks out and get the proof (and then testify in court) as is required by law.
As a worker at DCF, you know that ensuring the health and safety of Vermont’s children is a major priority of most citizens. But every year, as a DCF worker, you see your share of the state budget decrease while your workload increases.
If you still feel the need to blame someone, please take the outrage you feel and place it firmly where it belongs: on the person the state charges, tries and convicts for this heinous crime. Then re-dedicate yourself to doing what you can to support social services in your community, either with a group or as an individual.
I am lucky enough to be part of one of the hundreds of DCF cases that ended happier than a Hollywood movie. I just wanted to publicly thank DCF for the opportunity they provided me and my family.
Windham County will receive from Entergy $10 million facilitating economic development replacing Vermont Yankee in Vernon and neighboring towns, which are being asked at town meeting to raise and appropriate their property taxes to support Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS).
Self-appointed SeVEDS recently quietly completed its Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and submitted it to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). “Once accepted by the EDA, the CEDS will serve as a blueprint for economic development activity in the Windham region” (seveds.com).
The best jobs are created and sustained by proven innovative employers whose skilled employees add unique value to materials, then sell the competitive result for significantly more than it cost: the foundation of Windham County’s prosperity and where the $10 million should be spent.
There are many proven innovative employers in Windham County, just three of which are represented on the 18-member SeVEDS board of directors: Chroma Technology (optical filters, employee-owned); Grafton Village Cheese (Windham Foundation); and New Chapter (nutritional supplements, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati).
Local businesses are represented, not by the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, but by the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, in another world than Vernon and neighboring towns.
Seven board members represent government, supported by taxpayers: Towns of Brattleboro (two), Putney and Rockingham; Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation; Windham Regional Commission and Bennington County Regional Commission (“southeastern” Vermont?).
Seven board members represent conventional service businesses and organizations supported by clients, shoppers, sponsors or tourists: Bartleby’s Books (Wilmington); Brattleboro Retreat (mental health and addiction treatment); Richards Group (insurance and financial services); Stevens and Associates (architecture and engineering); Stratton Mountain Ski Resort (Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Denver); Strolling of the Heifers (event promoter, Brattleboro); and Vermont Geeks (two computer consultants, Wilmington).
Why are just three of Windham County’s proven innovative employers represented on a board of directors planning to spend $10 million to facilitate economic development replacing Vermont Yankee with equivalent jobs?
Is the current 18-member SeVEDS board of directors, dominated by 14 members representing government and conventional service businesses and organizations, qualified to do this?
As I see it, four threats were delivered recently to the Department for Children and Families. Two of these were delivered as notes left on the windshields of cars belonging to two DCF employees, causing these terrified officials to immediately call for constant police protection for themselves into the foreseeable future.
The other two threats were delivered to that department by way of two broken legs on a desperate little girl. Apparently, DCF decided she wasn’t terrified enough to warrant the constant protection into the foreseeable future that they had ordered for themselves.