All Vermonters are Healthy and Safe and 12 more...less...

Vermont's families are safe, nurturing, stable, and supported

Vermont's families are safe, nurturing, stable and supported

Vermonters are safe, stable, nurturing, and supported

Vermonters are safe in their homes and communities

Vermont families are safe, stable, nurturing, and supported

Families are safe, stable, nurturing, and supported

Vermont families are safe, stable, nurturing, and supportive

Vermonters are safe from harm


Vermont families are safe, stable, nurturing, and supported



Rate of substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect per 1,000 children

7.4 per 1,0002017

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Notes on Methodology

This indicator draws on data from the annual Child Protection Report.

Last updated: September 2017

Updated by: Department for Children and Families

Story Behind the Curve

We want to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect as part of our efforts to ensure that all Vermonters are healthy and safe.

In Vermont, the rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect per 1,000 children has increased in the past several years, from a low of 5.6 in 2010 to a high of 8.2 in 2014. In 2015, the rate decreased slightly to 7.8. Increased rates of poverty, substance abuse (particularly opiate use), and family and community violence have been linked to this increase. During the same period of time, the national average was 9.1 to 9.3 maltreatment victims per 1,000 children. Vermont’s slightly lower rate may indicate that Vermont’s investment in child abuse prevention, early childhood services, and comprehensive family supports is having an impact. 

However, there is much more work to be done to assure child safety and support vulnerable families. It is anticipated that the rate of substantiated reports of abuse and neglect will increase in the coming months, based on findings from the 2015 Report on Child Protection in Vermont by the Department for Children and Families (DCF). Ongoing child abuse prevention efforts at DCF include intensive family support home visiting (Strengthening Families Demonstration Project), a wide range of anti-poverty initiatives, and increased capacity for substance abuse screening in Family Services Division (FSD) district offices through contracts with community partners. In addition, Integrating Family Services within the Agency of Human Services seeks to bring state government and local communities together to ensure holistic and accountable planning, support and service delivery aimed at meeting the needs of Vermont’s children, youth and families.

AHS is currently using this tool to assess our agency contribution to reducing the rate of child abuse and neglect in Vermont. One Agency cannot turn the curve alone; there are many partners who have a role to play making a difference.


Child abuse and neglect in Vermont is a population-level problem. While the Agency of Human Services (AHS) and its Departments are responsible for intervening in, and working to reduce the rate of child abuse and neglect in Vermont, AHS recognizes that preventing abuse and neglect is something many other partners contribute to.

In the Agency strategic planning process for reviewing our strategic plan population-level results and indicators, each of the partners below was identified as having a contributing role to play in improving this population-level indicator for the state of Vermont.

  • Vermonters
  • Vermont families
  • Communities
  • Agency of Human Services
    • Department for Children and Families

      • Protective Services Child Care
      • Children’s Integrated Services
      • Disability Determination (do SSI determinations for kids in custody)
      • Family Services Division
      • Family Supportive Housing
      • Medicaid
      • Reach Up
      • Strengthening Families Demonstration Project
      • Strengthening Families Child Care
      • Vermont Rental Subsidy
    • Integrated Family Services
    • Department of Mental Health
    • Vermont Department of Health
  • Local law enforcement and Special Investigation Units
  • Vermont Judiciary, attorneys, and other court personnel
  • Prevent Child Abuse Vermont
  • Parent Child Centers
  • Health Care Professionals
  • Educators and other school personnel
  • Agency of Education
  • Designated Agencies
  • Mandated reporters
  • UVM Child Welfare Training Partnership
  • Casey Family Programs
  • What Works

    Strengthening Families™ is a research-informed approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. It is based on engaging families, programs and communities in building five protective factors:

    • Increase parental resilience
    • Strengthen social connections
    • Improve knowledge of parenting and child development
    • Provide concrete support in times of need
    • Promote social and emotional competence of children

    Child abuse prevention initiatives across the Department for Children and Families and the Agency of Human Services draw on this evidence-informed approach.


    The deaths of Dezirae Sheldon and Peighton Geraw in 2014 caused the entire child protection system to question what could have been done to prevent these tragedies. Vermont’s Child Protection System has undergone an unprecedented number of reviews and inquiries in an attempt to answer this question.

    DCF has implemented significant improvements based on reviews conducted by Casey Family Programs and the Vermont Citizen’s Advisory Board. DCF also sought feedback from its staff, community partners, and the public to develop a plan to improve our policies and support our workforce. Implemented changes include:

    • Increased staffing capacity in the districts and in the DCF Central Office, with support from AHS, the Governor’s Office and Legislature;
    • Contracted with community partners to provide the services of six substance abuse specialists who will help social workers with investigations in which substance abuse is alleged to be a contributing factor to child abuse or neglec
    • Renewed the emphasis on child safety in the Family Services Division mission;
    • Implemented new policies requiring management consultation in cases of serious physical abuse;
    • Held a statewide conference in March 2015 for staff and partners focusing on the needs of young children and how to improve our focus on the safety and wellbeing of these young children;
    • Updated training on child safety and risk assessment in partnership with Casey Family Programs and the Children’s Research Center;
    • Introduced a comprehensive coaching program to support continual skill development for staff; and
    • Improved the DCF website to provide better information to the public about FSD policies and practices.

    Act 60 went into effect on July 1, 2015. This legislation makes several key changes possible:

    • Information sharing among professionals across the child protection system
    • Closer collaboration between DCF and Vermont’s Special Investigation Units
    • Adoption of a mandatory six-month supervisory period for children reunified to a home in which they were abused or neglected
    • Creation of a Joint Legislative Child Protection Oversight Committee

    For more information about ongoing efforts to strengthen Vermont's child protection system, please click here.

    Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy