Richard Wexler | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Richard Wexler 
Member since May 12, 2016



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Re: “Why More Vermont Parents Are Losing Their Children — Permanently

In 2014, Vermont authorities took 788 children from their homes. Of course, DCF says, it’s an opioid epidemic.

But in 1999 Vermont took away 750 children. In 2005 it was 770. And in 2002 Vermont took away 832 children.

What Vermont really has is an epidemic of child removal, caused by an entrenched take-the-child-and-run mentality that long predates the opioid epidemic.

Vermont is an extreme outlier among the states, routinely tearing apart families at one of the highest rates in the nation, vastly higher than states that are national models for keeping children safe – including states with serious drug abuse problems. (Details:

The problem of drug abuse, like the problem of child abuse, is serious and real. But neither problem requires the kind of mass destruction of families that has been standard operating procedure in Vermont. And the problem with all this is not that it hurts parents, though of course it does, the problem is that it hurts children.

For example, University of Florida researchers studied two groups of infants born with cocaine in their systems. One group was placed in foster care, the other with birth mothers able to care for them. After six months, the babies were tested using all the usual measures of infant development: rolling over, sitting up, reaching out. Consistently, the children placed with their birth mothers did better. For the foster children, being taken from their mothers was more toxic than the cocaine.

That doesn’t mean you can just leave children with addicts and go away. It does mean that serious drug treatment for the parent – the kind Skyler Browder talks about – is almost always a better option than foster care for the child.

Richard Wexler
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

24 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Richard Wexler on 05/12/2016 at 1:40 PM

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