How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families Addresses the State of Children and Families Broadly in Vermont; Building Vermont’s Future from the Child Up Think Tank Report Reimagines the Early Care and Learning System for Sustainability
Vermont Business Magazine Building Bright Futures (BBF) today released two key reports intended to guide state leaders as they act to support children and families in Vermont. The sixth edition of How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families is a data-rich look at the well-being of children in Vermont that covers topics including health, communities, economics and early care and learning. The Building Vermont’s Future from the Child Up Think Tank Report is the result of a multi-year effort involving hundreds of stakeholders statewide that reimagines the future of early care and learning in Vermont.
“BBF is fulfilling its statutory charge to advise the Governor and Legislature on matters that affect children from birth through age 8,” said Carolyn Wesley, Interim Executive Director of Building Bright Futures. “These two reports serve not only to inform, but also to drive collective action that addresses the most pressing challenges for Vermont’s children on both the state and the community level.”
Key recommendations from How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families include:
- Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with a focus on promoting protective factors and social-emotional wellness for children. Vermont has an opportunity to ensure that our early care and learning settings create environments that support resilience and protective factors and have staff and leadership that are trained to support the positive social, emotional and behavioral development of children. This can be achieved through the expansion of two key research informed frameworks, Early Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and the Strengthening Families Protective Factors framework.
- Building capacity in the Early Care and Learning System. For Vermont children under 5, 39% have access to no regulated child care program at all. In Vermont’s efforts to address the availability of high-quality childcare, retaining and recruiting the early care and education workforce has emerged as a significant road block to expanding capacity. To address this, immediate resources are needed to support education costs for the early childhood workforce, including scholarships and debt forgiveness.
Key recommendations of the Building Vermont’s Future from the Child Up Think Tank Report include:
- A wage scale for key roles in early care and learning to clearly articulate what is needed to move Vermont toward early childhood salaries that are commensurate with desired qualifications for early educators.
- Early Care and Learning Hubs to help practitioners more efficiently organize, manage, and deploy resources to early care and learning programs.
- Redesigned Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) to better support low- and moderate-income families seeking child care
- New revenue to cover the costs of a high quality, affordable child care system.
“Ensuring that Vermont children have access to high quality early care and learning is a priority for our state, and will require significant change and commitment,” Wesley said. “As a state we are grappling with increased needs in our public education system: the call for increased investment in early childhood, shifting and changing funding streams, and our goals of improving outcomes for children. As we aspire to reach the vision outlined in this report, we recognize that it will take time, patience, trust, and iterative change to achieve the best system for children in Vermont.”
Both reports can be found at www.buildingbrightfutures.org.