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DCF Hires New Rutland Director

Nina Keck
Vermont's Department for Children and Families has hired Jennifer Burkey to be its new District Director in Rutland.

Vermont’s Department for Children and Families has hired Jennifer Burkey to head up its Rutland District office. Burkey will be the fourth person to hold that position in less than a year.

Burkey is spending her first 3 to 6 months working alongside Interim District Director Beth Sausville. Sausville has been splitting her time since January heading up both Rutland’s and Bennington’s District DCF offices.

Vermont Department for Children and Families officials repeatedly refused to comment on Burkey’s hire, nor was she available for comment.

According to an internal DCF release, the lengthy orientation and training period will ensure a well-supported transition in Rutland.

The memo says Burkey brings considerable experience to the position having spent the last ten years in upstate New York directing Washington County’s Head Start program as well as the county’s Home and Family Services Programs. Burkey’s former supervisor in Washington County, Claire Murphy, would not comment on Burkey’s track record there saying personnel issues are confidential.

Burkey’s experience will likely be put to the test in Rutland - a district that’s come under intense scrutiny following the death last year of 2-year old Dezirae Sheldon. Sheldon had been under the supervision of DCF caseworkers in Rutland when the toddler was allegedly killed by her stepfather. Internal and external investigations into DCF’s handling of that case pointed to multiple communication breakdowns and other missteps.

Rutland State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy, who’s pledged a much more active role in prosecuting child abuse, says she met Jennifer Burkey at a Project Vision meeting in Rutland, and looks forward to working with her.

Update 9:51 a.m. April 2, 2015 DCF issued a press release the day after this article was initially published, announcing Burkey's hire. The full text of the release is below.

DCF has hired a new District Director for their Family Services Office in Rutland. Jennifer Burkey started in her new position on Monday, March 9, 2015. The hiring process included sixteen applicants and three panel interviews: 1. An FSD District Office Staff Panel; 2. A Rutland Community Panel with seven community members; and 3. A DCF Central Office Panel. “It was clear to the hiring committee, through the interviews and her references, that Jennifer was a strong candidate and a good fit for the community,” said DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz. “They felt she had the skills, energy, and attitude needed to lead the Rutland District Office to a place of stability, effective practice, and child safety. All seven members of the community panel unanimously supported her hiring.” Jennifer received her Bachelor’s of Social Science degree in Behavioral Science from Pennsylvania State University. She has 10 years high-level experience in public service management and leadership serving vulnerable children and low-income families. Before that, she worked for four years in child protection. Her frontline child protection experience and recent leadership in early childhood work makes her particularly qualified to meet the needs of our current client population. Beth Sausville who has served as Interim District Director in Rutland for the past several months will stay on board part-time to train and mentor Jennifer over the next several months.

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