Monday, August 10, 2015

Tragedy in Vermont

Our social work colleagues in Vermont experienced a heartbreaking tragedy this weekend with the shooting death of a Department of Children and Families social worker. With very preliminary information, we know that the social worker was shot outside the DCF office, allegedly by a DCF client who lost custody of her child(ren).

The Child Welfare field has always been a challenging one.  Social Workers and other child welfare staff are expected to deal with complex social, environmental, psychological, and mental health issues that affect society’s vulnerable families.  These multifarious problems can be short-lived or chronic, and it is up to the child welfare community to deal with them, address them, solve them.  With this awesome responsibility, society must do its utmost to give child welfare the support, resources and mobilized attention that the job demands. 

For this reason, NASW continually supports manageable caseloads, professional training for staff, and every effort to fully fund and staff child welfare agencies with the necessary resources. 
Please see the statement from our colleague in Vermont below:
The Vermont Chapter of the National Association for Social Workers (NASW-VT) expresses its heartbreak and sympathies after Friday night's fatal shooting of a Department for Children and Families (DCF) employee.  

Employees of the Department for Children and Families do immensely difficult work with children and families experiencing complicated and often extreme hardship. Every day, these workers do their best to navigate sometimes-impossible challenges in an environment of scarce resources. This work helps ensure the safety and wellbeing of communities throughout Vermont. 

While we know that incidents such as these have been known to occur to child protection workers across the country, it is impossible to prepare for or fathom the devastation that a crime such as this causes. NASW-VT expresses our deepest sympathies to the family of the victim of this crime. We stand in proud solidarity with child protection workers across Vermont and across our country in the wake of this unspeakable violence. 

Eilis O’Herlihy, LICSW
Executive Director, NASW-VT

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