Governor outlines workforce and opioid prevention initiatives

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Governor outlines workforce and opioid prevention initiatives

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 3:56pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott was joined by his Opioid Coordination Council Thursday to present its initial report of recommended strategies, as part of its charge to strengthen Vermont’s response to the opioid crisis. The first report to Governor Scott follows eight months of intensive study, visits to many communities and collaboration across state government and with local organizations. It offers 21 strategies in the areas of systematic enhancements, prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement. The strategies build on Vermont’s successes, and recommendations include specific actions and frameworks for key programs, next steps, and areas that require additional research and coordination.

“I want to thank each member of our OCC team, and the many partners who supported this work, for their continued commitment to addressing Vermont’s opioid crisis. I appreciate the thoughtful approach, their expertise, and the many hours of work,” said Gov. Scott. “Thanks to the work of many others in state and local government, the Legislature and our communities, Vermont has been a leader on this issue. I look forward to working with the Council, and all of our partners to continue to build upon this progress with the roadmap this report provides.”

Gov. Scott has also announced immediate actions his Administration will take, inspired by recommendations in the report, including:

  • The Vermont Agency of Education will repurpose its Tobacco Use Prevention Education Coordinator position into a Substance Use Prevention Coordinator, expanding the scope to address a more comprehensive range of substance use concerns. This coordinator will work with the Department of Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs and in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Mental Health and prevention specialists to explore a system for delivery of school-based primary prevention programs.
  • The Vermont Department of Labor will begin delivering career counseling and employment services in all Vermont’s Recovery Centers on a regular basis this year.
  • The Council will collaborate with the Secretary of State’s Office, Office of Professional Regulation, and the Department of Mental Health to streamline rules for Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors (LCMHC). Expanding on work completed this fall, this effort aims to grow Vermont’s substance use disorder treatment workforce while maintaining high statutory standards of competence by eliminating unnecessary barriers to the professional license.

Gov. Scott also signaled that he will announce an additional initiative focused on supporting children and families impacted by addiction in his budget address. These new initiatives are in addition to the State’s ongoing efforts in the areas of prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement, and will guide initiatives and enhancements already underway across state government.

The Opioid Coordination Council, which the Governor established by Executive Order 09-17 as one of his first actions upon taking office, is charged with leading and strengthening Vermont’s response to the opioid crisis by ensuring full inter- and intra-agency coordination between state and local governments in the areas of prevention, treatment, recovery and law enforcement activities.

The 22-member council, appointed by Governor Scott, is co-chaired by Agency of Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille, Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson, and former Chittenden County State Senator Jim Leddy, whose professional career was dedicated to addressing the challenges of substance use disorders. Jolinda LaClair, Director of Drug Prevention Policy, a position created by the Executive Order, oversees the Council’s work; it’s members represent state, federal and local officials, nonprofit organizations, and representatives from the state’s healthcare, education and business communities.

Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement today in response to the governor:

“I welcome the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council (OCC) report and the year of hard work that went into outlining its strategies to begin addressing this terrible challenge. Opioid addiction is the single biggest public health challenge we face not just as a City, but as a State and a country. It is taking an appalling toll on our communities, affecting the lives of everyone from those struggling daily with addiction, to their family and friends, to the first responders and treatment providers who work to bring many back from the brink of death. 

“Now it is the job of everyone involved in the opioid epidemic to turn the OCC’s report into urgent action. We look forward to working with the Governor to make near-term progress on many of the initiatives highlighted in the report, including expanding medically assisted treatment in prisons, creating much-needed sober housing, and increasing data sharing between agencies working on this challenge. This is a terrible and humbling crisis, but I believe there are changes we can make that could produce meaningful results for many in our community and across the State.”

To view the full report, visit http://www.healthvermont.gov/opioid-coordination-council

Source: Governor 1.11.2018