Impact Of Parental Substance Abuse A Growing Issue For Vt. Families, New Report Outlines

Jan 10, 2018

The 2017 "How are Vermont’s Young Children and Families?" report paints a mixed picture in terms of economic well-being, access to services and a range of health indicators.

The report also underscores the impact of parental substance abuse in reported instances of child abuse and neglect and in the number of children in state custody.

“I think the custody data is the most significant in terms of, you know, looking at between 2012 and 2016. When we see the rates of children going into custody more than doubling for children under the age of 9, that is of huge concern,” said Sarah Squirrell in announcing the findings.

Squirrell is the executive director of Building Bright Futures, a public-private partnership which issued the report.

On the positive side, the report says since 2009, the percentage of families with young children living in poverty has declined — although the rate remains high for single mothers with children.

And Vermont continues to enjoy one of the highest rates in the nation for children covered by health insurance.

The report says access to quality child care remains an issue because of the high percentage of parents who work.

According to the data, 78 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 have "all available parents" in the workforce.

And the report says nearly half of Vermont’s infants and toddlers likely to need child care don't have access to regulated programs.

"Parents are having to make those tough choices every single day: 'Do I go to work? Or do I stay home and take care of my children?’" said Squirrell.

She says more investment in the child care financial assistance program is necessary to close the gap.