MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Wednesday afternoon that Department for Children and Families Commissioner David Yacovone is leaving his position in the embattled department for a job in the private sector.
Yacovone made the decision to leave state service and was not asked to step down. Still, the move comes as DCF deals with the fallout of several crises and faces a potential reorganization following a comprehensive review ordered by Shumlin in May.
The department faced scathing criticism following the deaths earlier this year of two children supervised by the department. Two-year-old Dezirae Sheldon of Poultney died in February and 15-month-old Peighton Geraw of Winooski died in April. Both deaths were ruled homicides.
Calls for Yacovone’s ouster have persisted since those tragedies. Former Agency of Human Services Secretary Doug Racine was fired by Shumlin earlier this month.
Various investigations into the toddlers’ deaths are ongoing, and a special legislative panel has worked all summer to determine what, if any, legislation is needed to address policies and procedures within the department.
Additionally, a lawsuit was filed last week against the state department alleging that social workers did not act on the reported abuse and neglect of two children in Ludlow over a four year period.
Yacovone, a former member of the Vermont House, was appointed DCF commissioner in January 2011, when Shumlin took office. He has worked in the health and human services field since 1976, beginning as a vocational counselor for economically disadvantaged Vermonters.
Yacovone also worked as a nursing home administrator for 16 years and at the Agency of Human Services for 12 years, including stints as chief operating officer, commissioner of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and and director of field services in the Morrisville district office.
A full story will appear in Thursday’s editions of the Herald and Times Argus.