Waterbury, Vt.-A website created to inform mothers across the nation about the quality of healthcare in each state recently ranked Vermont first in the nation for maternal and early childhood health.MomScore, an interactive tool that presents moms and moms-to-be with relevant, comprehensive data about maternal health in their states, was created by RevolutionHealth.com, a leading comprehensive health and medical information site.The website reviewed over 50 quality indicators of maternal and infant health from federal and state government sources, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Census Bureau, and leading non-profit organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In consultation with clinical and public health policy experts, they identified ten key indicators of maternal and early childhood health.Vermont ranked no. 1 in five of the ten indicators, boasting the best family paid leave policy, lowest risk of pregnancy complications, most affordable children’s health insurance, and the lowest infant as well as maternal mortality. In each of the other indicators, access to prenatal care, availability of childcare, air quality, low incidence of violent crime, and affordable health insurance rates, Vermont ranked within the top 10 states.”I am pleased that MomScore confirms that Vermont is the best place in the country to support maternal and early childhood health,” noted Governor Jim Douglas. “This ranking highlights the commitment my administration, state legislators, our congressional delegation, and our community partners have made to ensuring that all Vermonters have access to excellent pre-and post-natal care and affordable, high quality health care through innovative and affordable programs like Green Mountain Health.”Governor Douglas noted, however, that this success must be replicated across the entire healthcare system. “Every family deserves the peace of mind that affordable and accessible healthcare provides. That is why I am absolutely committed to taking more bold steps to reform our healthcare system and reduce the cost of care.”Cynthia D. LaWare, Secretary of the Agency Human Services, agreed. “This website is wonderful acknowledgment of the hard work the Governor, AHS staff, particularly at the Health Department, the Office of Vermont Health Access, and the Department for Children and Families’ have done to ensure Vermont mothers and their children receive the best possible start in life. While we should never be completely satisfied, clearly we can be proud of all we are doing to promote maternal and child health.”Revolution Health Group is a leading consumer-centric health company founded to transform how people approach their overall health and wellness. The cornerstone of Revolution Health is RevolutionHealth.com, a free, comprehensive health and medical information site, specifically designed with women and other caregivers in mind. The site offers respected, scientifically sound health information as well as more than 125 online tools aimed at helping individuals take control of their well-being.Please visit: www.revolutionhealth.com/momscore(link is external) for further information.
A Chittenden County Superior Court judge denied today a Vermont State Employees Association request for a restraining order against the Douglas Administration. The state workers’ union sought the order against the administration to stop it from laying off more than 120 state employees, approximately 100 of whom were scheduled to begin departing state government today.In a written statement, VSEA Director Jes Kraus said: “Our heart goes out to the hundred employees who are being, in our views, unnecessarily forced out the jobs that they work so hard at. VSEA will continue pursuing every option available to us in our efforts to avoid more senseless layoffs.” In any case, the administration maintains that it has the right to layoff workers, as it always has, and will go ahead with its plan to do so. It expects the action to save about $13 million through this job action in the coming fiscal year. VSEA s complaint asserted that the layoffs violate the Appropriations Act, which went into effect June 2 over Governor Douglas’ veto. The Act specifically prohibits the administration from proceeding with layoffs unless they are first submitted as part of a plan that is vetted and approved by the Legislature s Joint Fiscal Committee. However, a companion bill passed Wednesday to the Act (the state budget) somewhat changed the language of that section. Attorney General Sorrell had offered an opinion to legislative leaders suggesting the language might be unconstitutional, which is a point Governor Douglas previously had made. Also at issue is that the state budget technically does not kick in until the start of the new fiscal year July 1, calling into question whether the layoff language, right or wrong, can even be applied during the current fiscal year. Nor has the governor signed nor vetoed the companion bill. In an effort to not have to file this lawsuit, VSEA did send a letter to Secretary Lunderville on Tuesday, asking the administration to rescind the RIFs, but we never heard back, said VSEA Director Kraus. That silence forced VSEA to take the action we will tomorrow (Thursday), as we believe the Legislature s veto override means the governor must now follow the law, whether he approves or not.
Rae Ann Knopf of St Johnsbury was confirmed as Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner of Education by the State Board of Education in a special meeting today. Knopf, who most recently served as the Assistant Director for Student Support and Safe and Healthy Schools, also serves as the department’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) coordinator.“We on the State Board of Education are excited about Rae Ann Knopf’s appointment as Deputy Commissioner,” said Board Chair Fayneese Miller. “I have had the pleasure of watching her expertly steward the department and our education partners through the complexities of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I personally look forward to working with her and the commissioner as we continue our work on the transformation of education in Vermont. ”Rae Ann Knopf has worked nationally over the last 26 years to establish learning communities where young people can thrive and realize their true potential. She uses her experience as a school administrator, clinical director, corporate executive and organizational development specialist to lead statewide efforts to continue strengthening Vermont’s educational system by implementing tiered systems of support and intervention for academics and behavior.Prior to joining the department, she has shown a career-long commitment to students in need in a whole range of educational settings, including serving as the Executive Director, Founder and Head of Bromley Brook Secondary School for the Aspen Education Group in Cerritos, CA; as the Vice President of Private Education Operations, and as the Interim Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, of CEDU Family of Services for the Brown Schools of Boston. Prior to that, she served several years at VisionQuest National LTD in Arizona, a national organization providing treatment to adolescents with severe emotional and behavior difficulties. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Statistics from Western Michigan University, and her Master of Social Work in Social Policy and Organizational Development from the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Knopf most recently founded an academically rigorous residential secondary school in Manchester, Vermont for girls facing significant personal and emotional challenge. “The appointment of Rae Ann Knopf as the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Transformation and Innovation will greatly benefit the children of our state,” said Commissioner Vilaseca. “She has demonstrated leadership in innovative school practices prior to her arrival at the department. Her diverse experience in the private sector and non-profit private schools brings a different perspective to this role and compliments my experience in public schools. Her work with schools has had a positive impact on students and has helped provide schools with systems that support all students reaching their potential. She is respected both within and outside of our department and I look forward to working with her and the benefits she will bring to Vermont schools. ”Knopf’s duties as the next in command under Commissioner Armando Vilaseca will include, but are not limited to, overseeing the programmatic divisions of the department, which encompass Student Support and Safe and Healthy Schools, Lifelong Learning, Standards and Assessment, Educator Quality, and Independent and Federal Programs. She will also play a critical leadership role in the department regarding the Transformation of Education effort, State Board work and advising Commissioner Vilaseca on policy matters. She will continue her role as the ARRA coordinator for the department.“These are both challenging and exciting times for education in Vermont,” says Knopf. “Challenging because the current economic realities force us to constantly reassess our priorities. Exciting because our understanding of how children learn and accessibility to global educational resources increases exponentially every year. I look forward to working with Commissioner Vilaseca, the department staff, and educators across the state to put our collective knowledge to use in helping each child in Vermont to thrive and recognize their true potential.”Knopf will begin serving as deputy commissioner on October 11. Source: Vermont Dept of Education. 10.8.2009