It has been a very troubling few years at Vermont’s Department of Children and Families. In 2014 there was a string of child deaths in Vermont–children in families involved with DCF. These deaths prompted intense anger and at least four investigations into the department.
Then on August 7, 2015, Lara Sobel, a caseworker at DCF, was shot as she left the DCF offices in Barre, Vermont. She was shot and killed by a woman who was angry after losing custody of her daughter to DCF the month before.
The Department of Children and Families flares up in the news, then the news subsides. We hear from the governor, from the DCF commissioner, from legislators and journalists and commentators. But the people we never hear from are the people who actually do the work. And this is by design. The work that DCF caseworkers do is intensely private, and in order to protect the privacy of parents and children, caseworkers are not allowed to talk publicly about their cases. In a way, their silence shields us from some of the darkest, most complex, most intractable problems in our state. These are the problems that DCF caseworkers live with every day.
In this show you’ll hear from three DCF caseworkers from three different areas of Vermont. For their own safety, I’ve chosen not to use their names. They talk about what it’s like to have a job where the lives of children and families are at stake.
Credits and Thanks
Music for this show by Brian Clark and Peter Cressy
I would like to thank Luciana at DCF, and all the caseworkers who gave me such generous time in the making of this show.