Despite Dip, Addiction Fallout Continues To Consume Vermont Courts

Feb 9, 2018

At first glance, the numbers look optimistic. After three years of increases in family court cases related to addiction such as child abuse and neglect, numbers were down for fiscal year 2017.

"We thought maybe this is the beginning of a different trend," says Pat Gabel, Vermont’s chief court administrator. "Maybe some of the things people had been doing could make a difference."


That was before Gabel looked at the first six months of statistics for fiscal year 2018, and learned these case numbers had risen sharply once again. 

CHINS, or Child in Need of Care and Supervision cases dipped briefly in FY2017. These consist of abuse and neglect cases, "beyond parental control" cases in which youth have run away from home or are chronically truant from school, and truancy cases.
Credit / Vermont Judiciary

Because child abuse and neglect-type cases are complicated and get first priority, Gabel says, other kinds of cases in the court system get backed up, too.

Additionally, drug crimes, such as drug possession and distribution, were up over the previous year.

Credit / Vermont Judiciary

A commission tasked with finding ways to expedite these cases is set to offer recommendations to the Supreme court by the end of the year. Gabel says members will consider approaches that encourage more collaboration between advocates for children, advocates for their parents, and the state.