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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

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

a paper chain cutout of a family held up by two hands with a sunset in the background.
Access to quality child care and the impact of substance abuse are two key challenges facing Vermont families according to an annual report issued by Building Bright Futures, a public-private partnership.

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.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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