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DCF Commissioner Yacovone's New Job

     Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin announced Wednesday, September 3, the resignation of Commissioner for the Department for Children and Families (DCF) Dave Yacovone, of Morristown. Commissioner Yacovone, who will assume a leadership position with a community based non-profit organization in the near future, will be succeeded by Ken Schatz, General Counsel for the Agency of Human Services. Schatz has an extensive background in handling issues linked to DCF.

Outgoing DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone (far left) and his replacement Ken Schatz (at his side) listen to Governor Shumlin announce Yacovone’s resignation as commissioner, in the State House in Montpelier Wednesday, September 3. AP reporter Wilson Ring can be seen in the foreground of the photo.  - Guy Page photo

     The News & Citizen has learned Yacovone will be working for Sterling Area Services, his exact role had not been announced as of press time.
     “I am deeply appreciative of the work Dave has done at DCF, not only in competently overseeing the day-to-day challenges facing his department, but for quickly dealing with unexpected problems and tragedies that unfortunately occur as we try to protect our children, and reworking his mission when needed to keep families healthier,” Governor Shumlin has been reported as saying.
     Gov. Shumlin specifically mentioned the Commissioner’s personal commitment to keeping all Vermont children safe, working publicly and privately to ensure that families have access to the help they need to raise healthy and successful children, and that problems – including heartbreaking tragedies – are addressed swiftly. In addition, Yacovone has acknowledged a changing landscape in DCF’s work, with opiate and heroin abuse adding a new layer of complexity and risk to the cases that come before the department.
     He also noted Yacovone’s swift work to repair shortcomings in areas like the eligibility processing of public benefits for low income Vermonters. For example, under the Commissioner’s tenure:
     The timely processing of public assistance applications has climbed from 65 percent to 99 percent.
     Vermont – which ranked worst in the nation on error rates in the 3Squares Program – now ranks 24th and has been cited as most improved in the nation.
     The number of children in low income families accessing high-quality child care has increased over 70 percent since 2011.
     And the department now ensures all children in custody have monthly visits from social workers – up from only 20 percent in the recent past.
     Yacovone said the recent child fatalities have been a tragic reminder that all Vermonters must focus on making sure children are safe.
     “Our systems must be examined and improved to make sure we do everything we can to protect children,” he said. “Social workers and caring foster care families, no matter how good they are, get involved after children have been harmed. We must focus on preventing the toxic stress that sadly puts too many children at risk in the first place.”
     Yacovone said he was grateful to have worked in the Shumlin Administration. He indicated that despite budget pressures, the Governor has made significant investments for children and families.
     “The Governor has supported the hiring of over 50 additional permanent social worker positions since taking office; he understands the importance of this work,” said Yacovone.
     Yacovone’s replacement, Schatz, joined the Agency in 2012 after serving as City Attorney for the City of Burlington. Prior to that work, he worked for the Defender General as a Juvenile Defender, staff attorney in the Mental Health Law Project, staff attorney in the Vermont Developmental Disability Law Project, a legal advocate for the Bread and Law Task Force assisting low income families attempting to participate in federal hunger programs, and more. He was appointed in 1993 to the Children and Family Council for Prevention Programs, where he continues to serve, and is a member of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.
     Schatz, who lives in South Burlington, graduated from the University of Vermont in 1977 with a B.S. in social work, and received his law degree from Cornell Law School.



This Week's Photos

Stihl  chainsaw representative Andrew Krenz begins his chainsaw safety and maintenance demonstration on Saturday, September 6, at the Lamoille Wood Bank. Krenz began his demonstration at 1 p.m. as part of a day that saw a number of volunteers turn out to work at the Wood Bank.  - Martin photo





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