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Vermont Panel Takes Testimony On Protecting Kids

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A special legislative committee seeking solutions to a child protection crisis in Vermont heard from a number of key players Wednesday, including the heads of the child welfare department, the state police, police chiefs and prosecutors.

The hearing comes after two recent toddler deaths. Police in Shelburne are investigating the death Tuesday of a third toddler.

Department for Children and Families Commissioner David Yacavone told lawmakers Wednesday that his department's goal is ensuring children's safety, not reunifying children with parents. Under questioning, he also said he would be willing to consider changing confidentiality laws so information could be shared about the cases.

The director of the Vermont State Police says a shortcoming in the case of Dezirae Sheldon, a Poultney 2-year-old who died in February after suffering severe head trauma, was the failure to identify the actual offender who broke the child's legs before her death.Her stepfather, Dennis Duby, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

15-month-old Peighton Geraw of Winooski died in April. His mother has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder.

The panel will also heard from the state police director, chiefs of police in Burlington, Winooski and Rutland and state's attorneys from Rutland, Chittenden and Franklin counties.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.