Vermont’s child welfare system is in crisis. Hearings held by a legislative committee, appointed as a result of recent tragedies, have revealed significant problems in Vermont’s system of care, from response to reports of abuse and neglect to handling of cases by the court system. Voices for Vermont’s Children supports the creation of an Office of the Child Advocate, also referred to as an Office of Child Protection Ombuds in S.9 in order to continue to monitor and improve outcomes for our children.
We support the establishment of the Office of Child Protection Ombuds/Office of the Child Advocate. The purpose of the office would be to protect and advance the interests of Vermont’s children and families.
An office such as this in Vermont would shift the dialogue on child welfare from reactive to proactive. An advocate for Vermont’s children could significantly impact the state of affairs by engaging in investigations, oversight, community outreach/education, and legislative feedback. The office would be independent of any state agency, the advocate would be experienced in social services, advocacy, and law, and the Governor would appoint this person for a term of four years.
The Office would be responsible for several duties, including but not limited to: identify and investigate complaints on behalf of children and families; develop and implement a uniform reporting system; support recipients of children’s and family services; analyze and monitor development and implementation of laws, local and federal; and be a source of information for the public and policymakers.
We make decisions with the goal of providing these children with the ability to thrive, and yet we do not follow through and determine if our desired outcomes were ever achieved.
It is time to ask the right questions, understand what is going on with this population of youth and why, and identify what we can do to improve their chances for success as an adult. An Office of Child Protection Ombuds/Office of the Child Advocate can do this.
Please contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how you an support the formation of this Office.