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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

DCF Head Tells Legislators Child Safety Is Top Priority

A special legislative committee met in Montpelier Wednesday to hear from a number of key players on child safety issues.

State police officials, local police chiefs and prosecutors were all represented at today’s hearings, which were spurred by two toddler deaths earlier this year that resulted from abuse. Dave Yacovone is the Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families. He says that despite recent problems, today’s hearings show the state’s commitment to child safety.

"Vermont is doing its due diligence in examining these very critical issues in-depth to find out what we can do to improve situations for fragile families and to improve and provide for safety for vulnerable children," said Yacovone.

Media reports recently called into question the department’s practice of returning children home before problems can be properly investigated. But Yacovone says reunification isn’t DCF’s top priority.

"Our goal is not reunification," said Yacovone. "Our goal is the safety of the child and permanency."

Authorities are investigating two more incidents this week in which a Shelburne toddler died and a Burlington infant was hospitalized.

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