An administration report on ways to improve and reorganize the Department for Children and Families has been pushed back.

In May Gov. Peter Shumlin ordered the Agency of Human Services to develop a plan to reorganize DCF, following the deaths of two toddlers involved with the department.

Doug Racine, the secretary of the agency, was required to release a report by Aug. 1, but that deadline has been pushed back to October to allow input from advocates and stakeholders.

The governor's Council on Pathways from Poverty asked for the delay, according to Christopher Curtis, an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid and a co-chair of the council.

The report is to examine whether it makes sense to pare back DCF to focus on its core mission of protecting children and strengthening families, officials said.

Over the past decade, the department has taken on eligibility determinations and oversight of an array of safety net services for more than 200,000 Vermonters.

The delay shouldn't be cause for concern, Curtis said, because a legislative committee is still investigating child protection practices, and the agency could benefit from that committee's recommendations, too.

"Rather than commit to an early deadline, why not take advantage of legislative and stakeholder perspectives?" Curtis added.

Racine said he has not discussed with council members what form the public input might take, but will determine that in the coming weeks.


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