VCW believes that health care coverage should be affordable and accessible to all Vermonters; that every woman has a right to privacy and access to comprehensive educational, medical, and counseling services; and that everyone has the indisputable right to live free of domestic and sexual violence.
VCW monitors legislation and public policies, provides research and information, and promotes measures that support the following outcomes:
- Women and children live free of all forms of violence.
- Women have access to quality affordable health care.
- Women and girls have access to information about health and safety.
In January 2017, a bill (H. 136) was introduced in the Vermont Legislature that would ensure healthy pregnant workers in Vermont receive reasonable workplace accommodations such as having access to water, access to a stool or a chair, longer or more frequent restroom breaks, or avoiding heavy lifting. The bill was signed into law May 4th!
Read the new law here.
Read VCW's testimony on H.136 here.
Read VCW’s press release, New Protections for Pregnant Workers here.
Read VCW's policy brief for more information about these protections.
We've completed an update of The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont. Since 1977, this handbook has been a “go to” source of information for Vermont women, their families, and the professionals that serve them. Written in plain language, the handbook, although written for women, covers issues affecting all Vermonters, such as marriage and divorce, adoption, wills and probate, women’s health, employment and education, housing and public accommodations, violence, public assistance and government benefits, insurance as well as others. New features include information on human trafficking, health insurance, same sex marriage, and immigration. This latest update started with 2 Vermont Law School (VLS) students, Arden and Maeve, who researched new federal and state laws to include. The students then contacted experts in the field, who assist them with research and writing in order to update this publication with laws recently passed. Professor Cheryl Hanna had directed VLS students in a complete update of this publication in 2011. The commission has named this project the Cheryl Hanna Legal Rights of Women Internship after her in tribute. Very special thanks to VCW Commissioner and attorney Gretchen Bailey who reviewed all 200+ pages!
SPOUSAL SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE TASKFORCE
At the end of the 2017 legislative session, VCW was placed on an 8-member Spousal Support and Maintenance Task Force created for the purpose of reviewing and making legislative recommendations to Vermont’s alimony laws. As well as research and information, VCW collected and presented the stories of Vermont women on this issue at a taskforce public hearing in November.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ASSAULT IN THE WORKPLACE
VCW Commissioner Lisa Senecal joined Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour along with Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women's Law Center, Melissa Silverstein of Women & Hollywood, and Leigh Gilmore of Wellesley College to discuss sexual harassment, assault, and the #MeToo campaign. Commissioner Senecal continues to write and speak out as a national thought leader on this issue in USA Today, National Public Radio, the Daily Beast and other media outlets.
STATE HEALTH ASSESSMENT AND IMPROVEMENT PLAN ADVISORY COMMITTEE
VCW was among a multitude of wide-ranging organizations taking part in this effort to set health improvement priorities for the Vermont Department of Health.
CONFISCATION OF DANGEROUS OR DEADLY WEAPONS BILL
VCW testified on House bill H. 422, a bill proposing to provide removal of deadly weapons from the scene of an incident of domestic violence. Read our testimony here.
PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE INSURANCE BILL
VCW's Cary Brown spoke at the introduction of H.196, bill proposing to create a Family Leave Insurance Program within the Department of Labor that will provide employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave and that will be funded by contributions from employers and employees. Cary's comments included findings from VCW's feasibility study: “Women in Vermont are already lagging behind men in their earnings, part of the reason why this is true is because there’s a disproportionate expectation that women will be the ones who’ll take time off from work, take time out of the workforce in order to care for babies, children, aging parents, other family members. Just in general, women are taking on more of those responsibilities. Paid family and medical leave insurance is one way to help offset that disproportionality. This was why VCW sought and received a grant from US DOL to conduct a feasibility study. We came up with some interesting findings: new moms with access to paid family leave work more hours, and return to work…They are 39 % less likely to rely on public assistance. That would translate to up to $271,000 savings to Vermonters. Additionally, in Vermont we’d see a $277,000 savings in costs due to infants being born healthy…and if we had a program, between 2 and 3.4 million dollars Vermont families would save, due to reduced child care costs. We could see an estimated 1800 Vermonters elevated above the poverty threshold, who would otherwise be below.”
Watch an Orca Media video of the press conference here.
View VCW's feasibility study presentation, submitted to committee considering H.196, the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, here. Read the full study report, also submitted the Committee, here.
LEGISLATIVE LUNCH 2017
Our 8th biennial legislative lunch took place at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017. This event is sponsored by donations to the Vermont Commission on Women Education and Research Foundation.
This year’s event featured an address by newly-elected Vermont Governor Phil Scott. Governor Scott thanked VCW, “…for the great work they’re doing to educate us on the status of women in our state and push for changes in how we think and act in our own daily lives.” He spoke about the need to close the gender wage gap, “I’m proud that here in Vermont gender inequality and the wage gap is not as extreme as it is throughout the rest of the country, but inequality, and any gap at all, is unacceptable. This is an issue of fairness that must be addressed by leaders at all levels in business and in government.” Governor Scott went on to focus on supports for our state’s working women, “Supporting women in the workforce is about more than equal pay. Policymakers and businesses in general should also identify other ways to make it easier for women to join the workforce: flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and more accessible affordable quality child care. And I understand this last point (child care) is a major barrier, sometimes affecting decisions about leadership roles and work schedules, while ultimately results in lower pay.”
VCW’s Chair, Marcia Merrill welcomed attendees, introducing the Commission to new policy makers and elected officials, and reminding those who were re-elected of our resources and focus. Marcia stated, “While women’s participation in the economy is strong, there are improvements yet-to-be made and barriers yet-to-be removed to facilitate full and equal access to economic security in our state. We are very much looking forward to collaborating with you in this effort.”
VCW Executive Director Cary Brown highlighted a “sneak preview” of data on Vermont women in leadership from research currently being conducted through Change The Story VT, a multi-year initiative by the Commission, the Vermont Women’s Fund, and Vermont Works for Women. The “sneak preview” heralds Vermont as a national leader in gender parity among state legislatures, with the highest percentage of women legislators, as well as women in many leadership positions. Read the sneak preview here. The document includes the unfortunate fact that just one woman currently holds statewide elective office, and that Vermont is one of only two states that have never sent a woman to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Commissioner and pediatric nurse, Danielle Martel, closed the event by leading an interactive dialog about the women’s issues policymakers hearing about from constituents. The subjects participants brought up included equal pay for comparable work, salary negotiation, cultural repression of girls, women running for boards and commissions, improving revenues in VT by decreasing the wage gap, the need for state agencies and departments to collect gender disaggregated data, adequate and reliable retirement income, aging demographics increasing the numbers of women as unpaid caregivers, and the gender wage gap.
NEW ENGLAND WOMEN'S POLICY CONFERENCE 2016
Nearly 400 women from across New England attended this biennial gathering to discuss policy solutions that address inequality and help to close the wealth gap. Participants learned about state and regional strategies to advance policies that can increase economic security for all women and their families, with a particular focus on low-wage workers and other vulnerable groups, as per the conference theme: “Expanding Opportunity and Building Equality for Women and Girls of Color.”
Participants were treated to a keynote by historian, professor and former Chair of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights, Dr. Mary Frances Berry. Featured speakers included Alison Quirk, the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources and Citizenship Officer of State Street Corp., and a surprise personal appearance by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Afternoon breakout sessions focused on research, policy and legislative approaches to five different issue areas identified by the Call to Action document created at the last conference:
Paid Family and Medical Leave
the Early Care and Education Workforce
the Elder Care Workforce
Recovery for All? A Snapshot of Women’s Economic Status in New England: Released at the Conference, this report compares and contrasts earnings data and explores policy solutions in VT and neighboring states.
The New England Women’s Policy Conference was hosted by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, in conjunction with Planning Committee members:
Vermont Commission on Women
Connecticut Commission on Women, Children and Seniors
Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women
Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women
New Hampshire Women’s Foundation
Rhode Island Commission on the Status of Women
Women’s Fund of Rhode Island
Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts
VERMONT FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE INSURANCE (FAMLI) COALITION LAUNCHES
The Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FaMLI) Coalition launched their campaign to establish a statewide family and medical leave insurance program October 19th at the Family Center of Washington County in Montpelier.
This program would allow Vermonters to have access to paid, job-protected leave. This leave would cover time to bond with or care for a newborn, recover from a serious long-term illness or injury, or care for a family member with a serious long-term illness or injury.
Speakers at the launch included:
Cary Brown, Vermont Commission on Women
Former Governor Madeleine Kunin
Sascha Mayer, Owner of Mamava
Claire Kendall, Co-Executive Director of the Family Center
Tara Hodgkins, Mother and Caregiver
Read more about the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FaMLI) Coalition here.
View a photo slideshow of the Coalition's launch on the Facebook page of the Family Center of Washington County or read press covereage of the launch here.
This day-long conference on Friday, April 15th was hosted by Vermont Law School's Women's Law Group, Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the Vermont Commission on Women. Sex, Race & Empowerment in the 21st Century offered an opportunity for participants to understand the impact of violence and the importance of providing legal and advocacy services to all survivors; and the importance of ensuring women's access to affordable and safe reproductive healthcare. Presenters included Cary Brown of the VCW, students and professors from VLS, staff from the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, The Pride Center of Vermont, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and many others!
Change the Story Issues New Report: Women Work and Wages in Vermont
Change The Story VT (CTS), a multi-year initiative fueled by the Vermont Women’s Fund, the Vermont Commission on Women, and Vermont Works for Women, has released the first of a series of briefs called “Women, Work and Wages in Vermont”. Much of this data is not regularly collected or published. All of it is specific to Vermont, and all is critical - not just in what it reflects about women, but in its implications for Vermont’s economic future.
“The objective of Change The Story is to move the needle of women’s economic security - faster. This initial compilation of information focuses on demographic data and represents months of diving deep into state and national data, reports, and other ancillary resources to create an accurate snapshot of the state of women in Vermont when it comes to work and wages,” shared Tiffany Bluemle, Director of CTS.
Today Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women and Bluemle presented the brief’s findings to members of the Vermont State Legislature. Among the brief’s highlights:
- Women are significantly more likely than men to live in poverty or economic insecurity – in large part because of the disproportionate rates at which they have primary responsibility for the care of minor children.
- 43% of VT women who work full-time do not make enough to cover basic living expenses as defined by VT’s Joint Fiscal Office.
“This brief and the overall CTS initiative is a prime example of how organizations can come together to leverage their impact in the state, as well as build a data-driven case for this important work,” shared Brown.
Additional findings include:
- The poverty rate for families headed by single women is 37.5% - nine times the poverty rate of married couples.
- Women who work full-time are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs - across every age group, at every level of education.
- VT women are especially vulnerable in their senior years, when their median annual income from Social Security ($10,000) is half that of men ($20,000).
A copy of the report is available at www.changethestoryvt.org.
NEW LAW: PAID SICK DAYS
VCW's Commissioners, Advisors and staff watched from the House galley as Governor Shumlin signs into law Paid Sick Days on Wednesday, March 9th 2016. VCW provided testimony (see below) and support as a member of Vermont's Paid Sick Days Coalition.
WOMEN, POVERTY & JUSTICE: ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS AND PROMOTING FINANCIAL SECURITY FOR WOMEN IN VERMONT
Monday, March 7th, 8-9:30 AM, Main Street Landing, on the Burlington Waterfront
With Featured Speakers:
Jan Demers, Executive Director, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity
Kirby Dunn, Executive Director, HomeShare Vermont
Rita Markley, Executive Director, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS)
Karen Richards, Executive Director, Vermont Human Rights Commission
Main Street Landing
Vermont Commission on Women
In Partnership with:
Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, Change the Story VT, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), Hunger Free Vermont, Main Street Alliance, Mercy Connections, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, Vermont Legal Aid, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Works for Women, Vermont Human Rights Commission, and Voices for Vermont’s Children.
Link here for more info.
VERMONT COMMISSION ON WOMEN AWARDED $173,794 FEDERAL DOL GRANT TO STUDY FEASIBILITY OF A STATEWIDE PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE PROGRAM
(From press release, 9/29/15) - Vermont Commission on Women will receive a $173,794 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau to study the feasibility of developing a statewide paid family and medical leave program. Such a program would ensure all Vermont workers have access to paid time off to care for themselves, a new child, or a seriously ill family member, the Department of Labor announced today.
These funds are to be used for planning purposes, including research and analysis, examining program design and eligibility guidelines. In addition to Vermont, the grants—totaling $1.55 million—were awarded to five other states: California, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Washington; and to two municipalities: New York City and Montgomery County in Maryland. Read the US DOL Women’s Bureau press release for more information.
“I congratulate the Vermont Commission on Women on receiving this well-deserved grant,” Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT., remarked. “As more states move forward on paid family and medical leave, it is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This grant will help ensure that Vermont, led by the Commission’s efforts, will formulate a strategy that meets the needs of our working families and businesses alike.”
“When you look at what other wealthy countries are doing, what you find is that the United States of America is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers some form of paid family leave, paid sick time or paid vacation time,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “This federal grant to the Vermont Commission on Women is a good first step to help develop a statewide, paid family and medical leave policy that would allow working families to have paid time off to care for a newborn child or a sick family member.”
“Most Vermonters agree that if you’re sick you shouldn’t be faced with the decision to either go to work and put others at risk or miss work, sacrifice your paycheck, and potentially lose your job,” Governor Peter Shumlin stated. “That’s why this study is vital in allowing us to better recognize needs of families, as well as costs and burdens to businesses so that we may move forward in a balanced and thoughtful way to bring this important benefit to working Vermonters. I am so proud of the good work being done by the Vermont Commission on Women and congratulate them on their successful application for a Paid Leave Analysis grant by the Department of Labor.”
Responding to the grant announcement, Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women, said, “This money comes at an opportune time, as public conversation, political will and legislative momentum in support of paid leave have intensified in Vermont. People are recognizing the reality that in 2015, most families have both parents in the workforce, and supporting working families is not only the right thing to do, it supports business and the state economy. We want to applaud the Department of Labor for prioritizing the needs of all workers, and for investing in Vermont. The Commission has been working for 51 years to expand opportunities for women in the workforce and we look forward to exploring solutions that suit the needs of both employers and workers.”
"This is an exciting opportunity to explore how we can better support Vermont families.” remarked State Representative Jill Krowinski, Co-Chair of the Women's Caucus, “I thank the Vermont Commission on Women for their leadership on this grant. We know that access to paid family and medical leave can improve economic security for women. On October 8th, the Commission and the Vermont Women's Legislative Caucus will be hosting a Women's Economic Security Summit at the State House and are thrilled to host Latifa Lyles, the Director of the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor, as our guest speaker."
The Vermont Commission on Women’s grant work will consist of analysis of potential administrative structures, including both public and private insurance models. Grant work will also examine costs of a program: both employee-funded and combination employer/employee funded models; implementation costs; usage, cost and coverage for both male and female workers; and a cost-benefit analysis. The study also will collect and analyze data regarding current practices of employers and employees; public opinion; the practical impact on employers; the need for access by both men and women; and the impact on children and families.
The Vermont Commission on Women & the Vermont Women’s Legislative Caucus Presents:
THE VERMONT WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY SUMMIT
A FREE event at the Vermont State House in Montpelier
Thursday October 8, 2015, from 8:30-3:30
Registration is now open. Join us for an energizing day focused on policy and legislative strategies to support women as essential contributors to their families’ economic security and to Vermont’s economy as a whole. From employment and wages, to early care and education, to paid family and medical leave, to access to health care, come hear state legislators, community leaders, and advocates discuss policies that will not only improve the economic wellbeing of women and their families, but all Vermonters. Register now for this free event at this link. For more information please link here, call 802-828-2851 or email us.
Forums Exploring Paid Family & Medical Leave
Vermont Commission on Women and Main Street Alliance of Vermont hosted a series of free community forums across the state this fall focusing on long-term paid family and medical leave. These forums examined the possibility of developing and implementing a state-run Temporary Disability and Caregiver Insurance (TDCI) Program in our state as a funding mechanism for leave. Participants explored the need for a TDCI program; how similar programs have been implemented in other states; and what a successful TDCI program could look like for Vermont. The forums consisted of a brief presentation followed by a discussion with business owners and community members. The Vermont Community Foundation provided financial support to facilitate the coordination of these forums around the state. The Vermont Community Foundation’s Innovations and Collaborations grant program supports projects that help nonprofits collaborate across issues and sectors to develop common solutions to community needs. Events took place in Brattleboro, Manchester, St. Albans, Burlington and Rutland. In addition to the Vermont Commission on Women and Main Street Alliance Vermont, an Oversight Committee will review findings and provide guidance. Oversight Committee participants represent a variety of constituencies and expertise related to the topic, and include a UVM labor economist and specializing in the political economy of low-wage labor market, as well as representatives from: the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce & Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation; the Vermont Attorney General’s Office; Vermont Department of Health’s Division of Maternal and Child Health, AARP; Governor Shumlin's office; the Vermont Department of Labor; and Change the Story Vermont, a multi-year strategy to align philanthropy, policy, and programs to significantly advance women’s economic security in Vermont. Read the press release. Find news covereage here.
The recent New England Women’s Policy Conference, spearheaded by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston was held November 7th. It was a power-packed day of learning, networking and celebrating state and regional action in four issue areas promoting women’s economic security: wages and income security; health and family leave policies; childcare; and elder care. Stay tuned for 2016's event, and save the date for November 18th!
VCW's Cary Brown (pictured on stage above) addressed the 400 event participants - women leaders from the New England states. Read materials and watch a video capturing highlights of the day here. Read "Call to Action: A Policy Framework for Women’s Economic Security" providing a unifying framework for policy change across the region in five key areas and catalyzes further action. Read this document here. (PDF, 1839 KB)
Vermont Law School Students Participate in Cheryl Hanna Legal Rights of Women Internship
Prof. Cheryl Hanna addresses media outside Burlington's federal building, re: landmark Equal Pay case
We’ve welcomed two Vermont Law School students as interns to assist with updating our handbook, “The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont,” during a summer internship program in the late Professor Cheryl Hanna’s memory. As part of the internship, VLS students Maeve Callaghan ’16 and Arden Florian ’16 will write, research state and federal statutes, and work with experts in the field to update the handbook with recently passed laws. Hanna, who passed away in July 2014, worked with VLS students to update this publication in 2011. We’ve named the internship after her in tribute. Read more here. Take a look at the Legal Rights of Women in Vermont handbook here.
Preventing Violence on Vermont College Campuses
Vermont college and university staff gathered on October 21, 2014 at Vermont Technical College in Randolph for a two-hour focus group addressing how Vermont college campuses can integrate, sustain, and institutionalize domestic and sexual violence prevention. VCW staff participated in facilitating some discussion groups. This work was initiated in response to the recommendation of the Governor's Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force to "strengthen Vermont college campuses’ response to prevention of domestic and sexual violence" (more on the Task Force below). Read the focus group summary here.
The first of its kind in the nation, the Governor's Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force was created in 2011 to evaluate Vermont’s domestic and sexual violence prevention resources and programs, identify gaps in services, identify ways to increase coordination of prevention efforts around the state, and make recommendations to enhance and improve prevention efforts in Vermont.
Task Force membership included appointees from business, law enforcement, corrections, health, the LGBTQ community, women’s rights (a staffer from the Vermont Commission on Women), the disability community, and experts in the field of child abuse and neglect and domestic and sexual violence. The group was chaired by Bethany Pombar, Prevention Specialist at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the umbrella organization for Vermont’s domestic violence and rape crisis shelters and centers. The Task Force was diverse in expertise and perspective but all members had in common real world contact with violence survivors and a commitment to exploring what might help reduce violence in Vermont.
Workgroups of the taskforce examined data collection, college campus prevention efforts, workplace approaches, men’s attitudes, military practices, effective social change campaigns and prevention practices currently in place. The report features 7 recommendations:
1. Support the creation and implementation of a comprehensive statewide plan to prevent domestic and sexual violence
2. Support and help develop a statewide, multipronged prevention campaign
3. Build capacity for bystander engagement strategies for all ages
4. Increase the engagement of men in domestic and sexual violence prevention
5. Strengthen Vermont college campuses’ response to prevention of domestic and sexual violence
6. Enhance data collection and accessibility
7. Establish a Violence Prevention Program Coordinator at the State level
View the Governor’s press release about the report.
View the report. (PDF 3.17 MB) Note – the table of contents on page 2 allows viewers to link to specific sections.
Watch news story about the report on ABC 22/FOX 44 News
VCW's Claire Greene moderated the panel discussion, "Is Harm Reduction Relevant to Pregnant Women and Parents in the Child Welfare System?"at the 2014 National Harm Reduction Conference in Baltimore.
Domestic violence doesn't stay home when victims go to work. It can impact productivity, increase absentee rates, and increase the chance of violence in the workplace. VCW worked with the Vermont Attorney General's office, the Vermont Council on Domestic Violence and other advocates to address domestic violence as a public health and safety issue in the workplace.
Domestic Violence: A Workplace Issue (Brochure, PDF file, 77 KB)
Full Report of 2011 Study: How Does Domestic Violence Affect the Vermont Workplace? A survey of male offenders enrolled in batterer intervention programs in Vermont
(Study, PDF file, 1.2 MB) Schmidt, M.C. & Barnett, A. M.C. & Barnett, A. (2011). Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Center for Rural Studies
Executive Summary of Study
(PDF file, 58 KB) Schmidt, M.C. & Barnett, A. M.C. & Barnett, A. (2011). Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Center for Rural Studies
Model Workplace Policy (PDF file, 41 KB)
Vermont Council on Domestic Violence
VCW is a member of the Vermont Council on Domestic Violence. The Council is a statewide multidisciplinary group created by Vermont Statute. The Council’s broad representation from state and community stakeholders allows us to provide leadership for Vermont’s statewide effort to eradicate domestic violence. The Council facilitates opportunities for dialogue, advocacy, education and support among state agencies, advocacy groups, and the public.
Vermont Workplaces Support Nursing Moms (PDF file, 1.17 MB) provides information for women returning to the workforce after having a baby and for their employers. VCW partnered with Vermont's Breastfeeding Network and the Department of Health to offer free help to all Vermont businesses welcoming back their new working moms. Vermont workplaces need lower health care costs, lower turnover rates, lower absenteeism rates, and higher employee productivity and morale. How to get them? Lactation support!
Bennington Area Listening Forum for Girls Issues
VCW presented a listening forum focused on issues affecting teen girls in Bennington County in partnership with Bennington County Maternal Child Health Coalition in late 2012. Participants included young women, parents and community members working in the fields of medicine, social services, education, law enforcement and public policy. VCW uses the information gathered at Listening Forums to inform our work on behalf of women and families in Vermont and to share with policy makers and various state and community organizations to strengthen and inform programming and services. Read notes from the Bennington listening forum. (PDF file, 78 KB)
Panel Discussion in St. Albans: Successful Reentry for Women in Corrections
Panel moderator/St. Albans mayor Elizabeth Gamache (standing) addresses audience
Commissioner and St. Albans native Danielle Martel put together this community panel titled, “Successful Reentry for Women in Corrections.” This standing room only event took place October 8th 2014 at St. Albans City Hall and was sponsored by VCW in celebration of our 50th anniversary. The panel featured experts working with this population addressing employment, educational opportunities, risk reduction, anti-recidivism programs, and health care. Participants learned from and shared thoughts with those providing support to local women building better lives and better relationships with family and the community as a whole.
Watch the video here - special thanks to thanks to Northwest Access TV. Introduction by VCW executive director Cary Brown (video caption is incorrect)
The panel moderator was St. Albans Mayor, Elizabeth Gamache. Panelists included:
Cathy Ainsworth, Vermont Women’s Mentoring Program, Mercy Connections
Scott Bork, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Patient Care Services, Northwestern Medical Center
Tiffany Bluemle, Executive Director, Vermont Works for Women
Sherry Caforia, District Manager, Department of Corrections
Julian Desnoyer, Northwestern Counseling and Support Services
Danielle Lindley, Parent Child Center Program Director, Family Center of Northwestern Vermont
Kris Lukens, Director, Voices Against Violence/Laurie's House
Candace Lewis, Coordinator of Academic Services, Community College of Vermont, St. Albans
Sheila Perrotte, St. Albans Branch Manager, Westaff
The Incarcerated Women’s Initiative, Then and Now: Vermont Summit on Women in Corrections
VCW assisted with coordination and co-sponsorship of this event which took place September 30th 2014 at Vermont Law School. Almost 200 participants discussed the history of incarcerated women in Vermont, the issues still facing women in corrections today, and ideas for next step policy recommendations.
Kim Bushey, VCW's Cary Brown and Julie Brisson speak about Vermont's incarcerated women
Experts in this field in Vermont provided background and context for the discussion, formerly incarcerated women shared their experience, and American University’s Brenda Smith provided national and international perspective and direction on this issue. Event agenda here.
VCW serves on the Department of Corrections Women’s Advisory Committee on Women Offender Services. The Committee provides a conduit for communication and collaboration between the Department of Corrections and its community partnersRad the white paper, Reclaiming Lost Ground for Vermont's Incarcerated Women. VCW took part in this collaborative effort to improve conditions for women inmates at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.
The Vermont Commission on Women is part of the Vermont Human Trafficking Taskforce which has worked on several meaningful projects over the last few years, including in 2011, legislation (Title 13, Chapter 60: Human Trafficking).
Harassment in Schools
The Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity produces this helpful guide: "What Should Happen When Your Child Reports Harassment"
This 20-page booklet provides general information, including a definition of sexual harassment, descriptions of state and federal laws, policies for Vermont businesses, and steps employees can take if harassed.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (PDF file, 674 KB)
Paid Family Leave Study Committee
VCW’s Executive Director Cary Brown served on the Paid Family Leave Study Committee created by Act 31 (Equal Pay law - more on Act 31 below) last year. Read the Committee’s report here.
Listen, Talk and Keep Talking (PDF file, 243 KB)
"What Teen Girls Say": A Statewide Survey of Vermont Girls
The Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains and the Vermont Commission on Women worked together to conduct and present these annual statewide surveys of girls. “What Vermont Teen Girls Say” theme and survey questions were created by a panel of girls. That panel presented survey results to legislators at the Vermont State House every spring. “What Teen Girls Say” survey results captured the attention of Vermont legislators, community officials, schools, and the media.
2011: Relationships (PDF file, 151 KB)
2010: Employment and Education (PDF file, 224 KB)
2009: Money Matters (PDF file, 1,982 KB)
2008: Health and Wellness (PDF file, 1,089 KB)
2007: Bullying and Harassment (PDF file, 1,053 KB)
2006: Growing Up in Vermont (PDF file, 1,340 KB)
Since 1977, The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont has been a “go to” source of information for Vermont women, their families, and the professionals that serve them. Written in plain language, the handbook, although written for women, covers issues affecting all Vermonters, such as marriage and divorce, adoption, wills and probate, women’s health, employment and education, housing and public accommodations, violence, public assistance and government benefits, insurance as well as others. New features include information on human trafficking, health insurance, same sex marriage, and immigration. The new edition allows users to link directly to the Vermont Commission on Women’s comprehensive resource directory and to federal and state statute websites. The result is reader-friendly content with easy-access reference links.
Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Of Paid Sick Leave in Vermont
Vermont Commission on Women joined representatives from the Health Department, child care centers, the restaurant industry, trade organizations, elder care and home health organizations, schools, primary care physicians, and the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce in a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) stakeholder group convened by the Department of Health. The stakeholder organizations are from sectors whose employees are currently affected by a lack of paid sick leave; who would be especially impacted by implementing such a policy; or who serve populations that would see special benefits or challenges from paid sick leave. The goal was to assess the possible effect of a statewide paid sick leave policy on the health of Vermonters and to recommend ways to mitigate any adverse health impacts of such legislation. In addition to this overarching goal, the HIA stakeholder group chose to focus on aspects of special interest to Vermonters, namely impact on small business employees and the effect on victims of domestic violence. Read Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Of Paid Sick Leave in Vermont here. Key findings of the HIA:
• Paid sick leave legislation in Vermont would significantly increase access to paid sick leave, particularly among low-wage, part-time workers and employees of small businesses.
• There is strong evidence to support that paid sick leave would decrease the spread of infectious disease in Vermont annually. There is some evidence that this effect would be especially visible in child care and food service settings.
• Paid sick leave would likely increase the ability of domestic violence victims to access health and social services and maintain employment.
• There are limited data to definitively link paid sick leave to preventable hospitalizations. However, decreasing preventable hospitalizations by 10% would decrease health expenditures by $6.8 million in Vermont annually.
Serving Poor Vermonters: Strategies and the Challenges Ahead
VCW Executive Director Cary Brown took part in a panel discussion titled "Serving Poor Vermonters: Strategies and the Challenges Ahead" for UVM Sociology students. This panel was designed to help students learn about existing strategies used to assist working and unemployed poor Vermonters.
Earned Paid Sick Days
VCW in partnership with the University of Vermont Women's and Gender Studies program, gathered a diverse group of professionals for a panel discussion concerning paid sick days for Vermont workers at UVM on April 22nd. A broad conversation took place about Vermont’s current labor practices around paid time off policies, the dynamics of Vermont’s employers and labor force, and the issue of paid sick and safe days from a policy perspective. Kristin Carlson of WCAX TV facilitated the discussion. Welcome was provided by Cary Brown the Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women. An introduction to the topic was provided by UVM’s Dr. Felicia Kornbluh, Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program, Associate Professor of History and also a VCW Commissioner. Panelists included: Representative Johannah Donovan of Burlington, Chair of the Vermont House Committee on Education; Dr. Elaine McCrate Associate Professor of Economics and Women’s and Gender Studies at UVM, Ellen Bravo Executive Director of the national Family Values at Work Coalition, Dan Barlow of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Lindsay DesLauriers of the Vermont Paid Sick Days Coalition. The Commission is grateful to our host for this event, the UVM Women's and Gender Studies Program. Learn more. (PDF file, 43 KB)
Managed Care and You: A Simple Guide to Choosing and Using a Managed Care Health Plan
A set of comprehensive educational materials for health consumers, these booklet detail how managed care works, how to choose a health plan, what to do to get the health care you and your family need, what your rights are in managed care, and what to do if you have a problem with your health plan. Managed Care and You (PDF file, 5,847 KB)
Paid Sick Days
The Vermont Commission on Women is a member of the Paid Sick Days Coalition. More information on the campaign for Earned Sick Days in Vermont can be found here. Follow the Coalition on Facebook and Twitter @VTPaidTime for more updates.
Accessing Health Care in Vermont: A Woman-Centered Approach
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