VPRC Welcomes New Executive Director, Larry Crist

Trine Bech, Vermont Parent Representation Center’s Founding Executive Director has announced she will be stepping down as Executive Director on April 15, 2016. The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Lawrence Crist, long time leader in Vermont services, will succeed Trine as Executive Director at that time. The Board is also grateful that Trine will remain involved as Staff Attorney for an interim period, working on direct services to clients, primarily in the Rapid Intervention PreNatal and Parenting (RIPP) program. VPRC was founded in 2008 to change the ...

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Richard Wexler: Flawed Alaska child abuse study suggests ‘solutions’ likely to worsen problem

Richard Wexler, Alaska Dispatch News: December 29, 2015 The problem of child abuse is serious and real -- in Alaska and everywhere else in America. But a recent study by researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage about the rate at which children known to the Office of Children’s Services are re-abused is built on a foundation of faulty assumptions and questionable data. As a result, it points toward “solutions” likely to make things even worse. The report, compiled by UAA's Institute of Social and Economic Research, im...

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Trine Bech: Strengthening families through community connections

Published in Vermont Digger 07/70/2014. Editor’s note: This commentary is by Trine Bech, the executive director and staff attorney for the Vermont Parent Representation Center Inc. Keeping Vermont’s children safe is the responsibility of not only the Department for Children and Families (DCF) but of us all. To meet this responsibility, our primary focus must be on strengthening families in order to keep children safe at home. This work is complex and our response cannot be to remove all children who are at risk, only those who cannot be safe at home. It requires ...

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Susan M. Buckholz, Esq: When an Attorney’s Best Efforts are Not Enough: The Multidisciplinary Approach to Parent Representation

By Susan M. Buckholz, Esq. "Parents in the child welfare system tend to be disenfranchised; they are used to not having a voice and can be easily intimidated by the child welfare power structure. They need someone to stand up for them. When they have a strong voice in the process, the system works better for everyone." Marc Cherne, Director, Allegheny County, Department of Human Services. Few events in the life of a family are more traumatic than the removal from the home of one or more of the children in that family. The causes, which can vary widely from case to case, ...

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Hillary’s Story: Mother and Daughter Reunited

Hilary’s Story - VPRC's three-pronged advocacy reunites mother and daughter after many legal and child protection system struggles. Hilary is a loving and dedicated mother who constantly fights her own ghosts of the past in order to provide love and care for her children. Hilary’s family has a tragic history of several generations of sexual abuse, which includes her 16-year old daughter, Melissa. Melissa was sexually abused by her biological father between the ages of 18 months and 4 years old, a fact confirmed by medical and mental health professionals. Through ...

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Mother Overcomes Addiction – Reunited With Daughter

I have three children, Peter age 9, Paul age 6, and Mary age 2. On Paul’s first birthday, his father committed suicide. I felt overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety and for the first time used illegal drugs. I soon became addicted and entered a long period of substance abuse. I met my now husband, and together we led a life which was all wrapped up in illegal drugs. Three years ago, DCF brought a petition for neglect. My boys went to live with my sister temporarily, although I saw them and took care of them every day. After a while my sister felt she could no longer ...

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Jonas’s Story: Father Stays Sober, Finds Full Time Work and Gets Full Parental Rights

Jonas's Story - Meet Jonas and his three year old son, Nicholas. Jonas, a former drug user in recovery, contacted Vermont Parent Representation Center (VPRC) encouraged by a Department for Children and Families (DCF) investigator. His parents had filed to have guardianship over Nicholas with the probate court and a hearing was scheduled for the next day. Nicholas was living with Jonas’ parents because the child’s mother was also drug addicted and a current user. DCF had an open case with Nicholas’ mother. Then things got complicated. DCF could no longer support ...

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Kerri’s Story: CHINS Petition Dismissed Because of Strength-Based Legal and Social Support

Kerri's Story - Kerri is a bright young woman with a world of promise before her. In this past year she has graduated from high school and secured full-time employment. She accomplished this while caring for her two year old daughter, Ellie, her pride and joy. This positive picture is a dramatic contrast to the chaotic life Kerri faced not so long ago. Her outlook was bleak as she struggled to manage an abusive relationship, the very real possibility of losing her daughter, and her desperate hunt for support. All this changed dramatically when Vermont Parent Representation ...

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Trine Bech: Making the child protection system work

Published in Vermont Digger. Editor’s note: This commentary is by Trine Bech, who is executive director of the Vermont Parent Representation Center Inc. Vermont Parent Representation Center (VPRC) is a parent advocacy and support organization for families at risk of losing their children to state custody. For over five years we have been hearing the voices of parents and families and bringing these voices to the decision-making tables. Most often at these tables are DCF Family Services, in charge of our child protection system; DCF Economic Services, in charge of ...

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WCAX: Will a new law aimed at protecting Vermont’s vulnerable kids work?

WCAX Posted: Jun 15, 2015 12:34 PM EDT MONTPELIER, Vt. - Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, signed a new state law designed to improve Vermont's child protection system Monday. Shumlin called the child protection bill the result of a lot of collective thinking. "We put more resource into social workers, and training of the other people who are doing the work, second, we have said let's break down the silos that sometimes precluded the people who knew about the tragedies from communicating with each other about whats going on," said Shumlin. Countless community ...

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