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This report displays the rate per thousand of children in Vermont who were found to be victims of abuse or neglect in the form of a 16-year trend line. The data are important because abuse and neglect can lead to many devastating physical and mental conditions for children, such as cognitive delay, depression, drug abuse and death (Building Bright Futures, 2015). Vermont is also experiencing more cases of neglect and abuse related to opiate addiction, as part of a nationwide opiate epidemic (CDC, 2015).

In this report victim of abuse and neglect was defined as a child or youth for whom the State of Vermont determined at least one maltreatment was found to be substantiated or indicated. A disposition of ‘substantiated,’ ‘indicated,’ or ‘alternative’ response victim was assigned to the case.

This report uses data from The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), provided by the Vermont Department for Children and Families, Family Services Division. NCANDS is a federal data collection system that gathers data from all 50 states on allegations and outcomes for child abuse and neglect. NCANDS was established in 1988 and the data is used to examine patterns of child abuse and neglect, including in an annual report to Congress. In Vermont, NCANDS data is sent to a central office from 12 Agency of Human Services Districts covering all regions of the state. The data is then compiled and shared with the federal government. NCANDS data is organized by the calendar year (January to December for a given year).

This report also uses population estimate data provided by The Vermont Department of Health, Agency of Human Services. These population estimates are made in conjunction with the US Census Bureau and The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). They also provide more fine-grained estimation than is available from the Census Bureau’s yearly population estimates. Specifically, they provide estimates by single year of age and gender, as well as by AHS District.

Additionally, up to 2008, the only available response to an accepted report of child abuse or neglect in Vermont was a child abuse investigation. In 2008, the Vermont legislature amended Title 33, Chapter 49 which implemented a differential response and allowed a “child abuse assessment” as an alternative response to reports of child maltreatment. The differential response allows the Department for Children and Families to respond differently to reports based on factors such as the type and severity of the alleged maltreatment, the number of previous reports, and the family’s willingness to engage in services to reduce risk.

Child abuse and neglect rates were calculated using the following formula:

([Child Abuse and Neglect Count (17-Years Old and Under) for Year] / [Population Count/Estimate (17-Years Old and Under) for Year]) * 1,000

Up to 2008, the only available response to an accepted report of child abuse or neglect in Vermont was a child abuse investigation. In 2008, the Vermont legislature amended Title 33, Chapter 49 which implemented a differential response and allowed a ‘child abuse assessment’ as an alternative response to reports of child maltreatment. The differential response allows the Department for Children and Families to respond differently to reports based on factors such as the type and severity of the alleged maltreatment, the number of previous reports, and the family’s willingness to engage in services to reduce risk.