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Color gradations represent distinct ranges of values for different regions in Vermont (see map title for description of the measure displayed in the map).


This report displays the annual cumulative count and rate of children and youth (birth to 19-years old) taken into custody by the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF). The cumulative report includes children and youth who were in DCF custody during the entire reporting period (October 1 through September 30th of each federal fiscal year). Data are broken down by geography (statewide and Agency of Human Services (AHS) district), year, and age. 

Children are placed in custody (also known as foster care) when it is determined that it is not safe for the child to remain at home, because of a risk of child abuse and neglect (also known as maltreatment.)  When children can’t live at home, the Family Services Division (FSD) of the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF), find safe, temporary places for them to live. The first choice is with relatives or family friends (kinship foster care.) When that’s not possible, FSD looks for other foster care families. The goal of child welfare (FSD/DCF) is to promote the well-being, permanency, and safety of children and families by helping families care for their children successfully or, when that is not possible, helping children find permanency with kin or adoptive families.

Data for this report were extracted from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), a system that collects case-level information from state and tribal title IV-E agencies on all children in foster care and those who have been adopted with title IV-E agency involvement. Title IV-E agencies are required to submit AFCARS data twice a year.

Cumulative counts represent all children and youth (unique counts) that were in DCF custody through the entire federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). Unique counts were obtained by selecting only the most recent case for the federal fiscal year using each child’s individual identification code (assigned by Vermont’s DCF). Counts between 1 to 10 (inclusive) were suppressed/removed for a given geography and replaced with the value ‘-999.’ Secondary suppression occurred in instances where a data element could be used to calculate a related value that was suppressed (e.g., when a numerator was suppressed for a given percentage, the denominator was also suppressed to prevent reverse calculation of the numerator). The suppression rules were enforced to prevent the identification of individuals in an effort to preserve privacy and confidentiality.

DCF custody rates were calculated using the following formula:

[(Cumulative Count of Children and Youth in DCF Custody for the Geography, Year, & Age) / (Postcensal Population Estimate for the Geography, Year, & Age)] * 1,000

Postcensal population estimates by age and year were obtained from the Vermont Department of Health. Results from this dataset can be viewed here.  2016 postcensal population estimates by age were unavailable, resulting in the inability to calculate the rates of children and youth in DCF custody for that year.

Age groupings for the Agency of Human Services (AHS) Districts were aggregated in order to limit the number of suppressed cells due to small sample sizes.

The federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30. The cumulative counts in this report correspond to the number of unique children during the entire federal fiscal year (e.g., 2013 = October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013).

Postcensal population estimates by age, obtained from VDH and can be viewed here, are only available for the years 2012 through 2015. Thus, 2016 results for the rate of children and youth in DCF custody are unavailable.  

Postcensal population estimates by age cover a calendar year and not the federal fiscal year. While the measurement periods are different between the population estimates by age and the DCF counts, VDH’s results were the best available population estimates for calculating rates in this report.

In September 2013, the following towns were transferred from the Springfield AHS District to the Brattleboro AHS District: Rockingham, Saxton’s River, Cambridgeport, Grafton, Londonderry, Windham, and Bellows Falls.

Cumulative DCF custody counts are only available for the statewide and AHS districts.  County, town, or other geographic levels are unavailable in this report.