Department for Children and Families

Toby Talbot / Times Argus Pool/AP

The Vermont woman convicted of killing three of her family members and a state social worker in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday.

The cost of providing emergency housing for the homeless continues to go up, despite the state's attempt to move away from paying for people to stay in motels.

State officials are investigating the death of a toddler in the care of a foster family under the supervision of the Department for Children and Families.

Jody Herring, seen here in court in August 2015, took a plea deal Thursday, pleading guilty to one count of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree murder.
Toby Talbot / AP/Times Argus/File

Jody Herring, the prime suspect for the murders of four people in central Vermont in August 2015, plead guilty Thursday as part of a plea deal.

The lack of permanence in the foster care system is a well-understood problem, and sometimes the path to adoption is long and difficult. That's why it's notable that the number of total adoptions in Vermont in 2016 is higher than it's been in years.

fotoguy22 / iStock

The new leader of the state's environmental agency is no stranger to the cleanup effort for Lake Champlain. Julie Moore is the newly named Agency of Natural Resources secretary and she's among our guests on the next Vermont Edition.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Just three years ago, the state spent more than $4.5 million on emergency housing for the homeless. Since then, there's been a shift toward investing in warming shelters, and other programs in communities around the state.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

A year ago in August, Vermonters were horrified at the public murder of a social worker, Lara Sobel, in downtown Barre. Among the witnesses who intervened that day was Scott Williams, the Washington County state's attorney, who knew both Sobel and the woman accused in her murder.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Across Vermont, organizations are experimenting with new models to combat homelessness. In some communities they're being welcomed, but in others, there's been push back.

State efforts to reduce the number of people who use motels for emergency housing have been effective, according to a report released this week  by the Department for Children and Families.

Police in Newport, Vt. briefly placed a state office building  on lockdown Friday morning after an unidentified caller made a threat to the Department for Children and Families, authorities said. By about 10:30 a.m. police called off the lockdown and deemed the area safe.

According to a Facebook post from the Newport Police Department, the caller made demands and threatened violence at the DCF office if the demands were not met.

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Times Argus

Gov. Peter Shumlin delivered his sixth and final budget proposal to the Legislature Thursday afternoon. The plan calls for a 3 percent increase in spending and raises roughly $30 million in new taxes.

Toby Tabot/AP, Angela Evancie/VPR, Kathleen Masterson/VPR

On this final day of 2015 we're taking a look back at some of the year's most significant news stories, some of which will no doubt influence events in 2016.

Budget pressures at the Department for Children and Families led lawmakers and administration officials to cut welfare benefits for 860 Vermont households. Advocates for low-income Vermonters, however, say the welfare program is running well under budget, and they say the state should now restore the cuts.

A Rutland foster family who won a lawsuit against their homeowners insurance company had the decision overturned by the Vermont Supreme Court

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The Shumlin administration has called for an $8.4-million expansion of the state's child welfare system, including hiring more than 40 new workers. The Governor says a thinly-stretched DCF and other agencies need more resources to respond to Vermont's opiate addiction crisis. We're talking about the plan and the pressures on the state's child protection services.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The number of children taken into state custody has jumped by 40 percent over the past two years. The increase has overwhelmed the child-welfare system, and the Shumlin administration is now calling for substantial new investments in state and county personnel.

The death of Lara Sobel, a social worker for the Department for Children and Families who was fatally shot outside a state office building in Barre in August, was deeply unsettling. And it raised serious concerns about safety for Vermont social workers.  

Steve Zind / VPR File

The Shumlin administration is planning to move Department for Children and Families workers from their location at Barre City Place to a nearby courthouse in what officials say is a direct response to the August shooting death of a DCF worker.

Nina Keck / VPR

The August shooting death of Lara Sobel shocked many Vermonters. For the Department for Children and Families, where Sobel worked as a social worker for many years, it was an especially difficult blow. 

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