FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2023
Contact: Rachel Dumeny
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Office of the Commissioner
Vermont Department of Labor
Vermont Department of Labor Awarded Equity Grant to Improve Access for Vermonters
Montpelier, Vt – The Vermont Department of Labor has received a $2,283,000 grant from the U.S Department of Labor to improve equity and access related to the State’s Unemployment Insurance Program. The grant will focus on improving language access for those looking to interact with the Department while also identifying and removing other barriers to the unemployment insurance system.
“This is welcome news for Vermonters and the Department. The pandemic highlighted the lack of accessibility for UI programs across the country, and this grant will allow us to make meaningful change in order to ensure equitable access for all,” said Commissioner Michael Harrington.
In the coming months, the Department will work with customers, stakeholders, and various interest groups to better understand the barriers and challenges faced when accessing the current systems. The information gathered through these conversations will help inform how best to improve the programs going forward.
Kristen Rengo, Equal Opportunity and Accessibility Manger at the Department of Labor, highlights the importance of this grant. “This will play a crucial role in ensuring that unemployed workers from marginalized communities, including those with language access needs, receive proper support,” Rengo said.
The grant will benefit several aspects of the Department, including customer-facing online portals, the Unemployment Call Center, employer services, Vermont Job Centers, Rapid Response operations, community-based organization and State system partner referral, and the modernization of the Department's unemployment insurance information technology system.
As part of Vermont’s equity grant, the Department intends to work with a third-party to conduct an equity analysis of the UI system. As part of this work, the contractor would provide the Department with a list of recommendations for improvement that could implemented over time.
In 2022, the Department received a $30,000,000 appropriation from the Vermont Legislature to modernize its IT systems specific to the unemployment insurance program.
The Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) exists to improve the lives of working Vermonters. The Department serves the people and businesses of the state so that all Vermonters can live well, be safe, and experience meaningful employment. Learn more about the Department at labor.vermont.gov.