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Opinion: DCF official’s killing recalled

Aug. 7, 2015, is a day that will live forever in the hearts and minds of all who work for the Department for Children and Families. That is the day Barre social worker Lara Sobel was killed at work, and it is a day we will never forget.
Since that time, the Middlebury Family Services office has faced its own challenges. We’ve been on the receiving end of numerous threats against our workers while they work to ensure children and youth in Addison County are safe and their families are supported.
We understand that most families don’t want us in their lives and that our involvement can be very stressful. We recognize the intrusive nature of our work and only want to respond to the degree necessary to keep children safe. However, we have zero tolerance for any physical violence or verbal threats directed at our staff.
We work hard to get parents the services and supports they need to keep their children safe and to meet their children’s basic needs (e.g., adequate food, clothing, shelter or health care). We strive to build strong, trusting relationships with the families we serve because, ultimately, that is the best way to ensure children’s safety and well-being. Our goal is to keep everyone safe.
We care about the children, youth and families in our community. Last year, we:
• Helped nearly 100 children in Addison County attend summer camp and enrichment activities.
• Provided families with Thanksgiving dinners.
• Provided over 300 Christmas gifts and books for children and youth.
• Helped families secure safe and stable housing.
Throughout this past year, we have been grateful for the tremendous community support we’ve received, including from agencies such as the Addison County Parent/Child Center, Counseling Service of Addison County, Easter Seals, local schools and local law enforcement.
As we celebrate Lara’s life and memory this month, we will:
• Wear her favorite color: purple.
• Participate in a community service activity to commemorate one of her favorite causes: animals.
In her memory, please take a moment to thank a teacher, police officer, social worker, child care provider or parent for doing the absolute best they can do on any given day.
Thank you Addison County!
Andrea Grimm
Director of Middlebury Family Services
Vermont Department for Children and Families

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