I gave the following testimony to the House Human Services and House Appropriations committees in the Vermont Legislature on January 10th and 11th respectively.
Thank you for your time today. My name is Cyrus Patten and I represent the Vermont Coalition of Residential Providers. We are a coalition of 21 nonprofits serving Vermont children and families through residential treatment programs.
I am here today in support of Secretary Racine’s recent request for 9 additional social workers for the Department of Children & Families. As a component of the system of care for children and families, residential care is often the last stop in desperate situations. When DCF caseloads climb beyond what is recommended by best practice research, residential programs see the effect and often pick up the dropped pieces.
If you hear nothing else from me today, please hear this: Vermont’s system of care is under tremendous stress. High caseloads, insufficient resources and gaps in the continuum of care put children at risk every day, and put families in fail-fail situations.
These added positions will be a lifeline in a desperate situation, but are only a down payment on a real solution.
Imagine a system that supports children and families when they need it, with effective and efficient interventions. This system would provide the right service at the right time for any family that needs it.
I understand the complexity of funding demands on this committee. I would also challenge that if the wellbeing of Vermont children is a priority we all share, the challenge is not limited resources, but how we allocate them.