And Why It Matters
The early years are essential to ALL children. From birth to age five, children’s brains are developing rapidly, forming over 1 million new neural connections every second, establishing the social, emotional, and academic foundation they will build upon over the course of their lives. But even before COVID, 3 out of 5 of Vermont’s youngest children didn't have access to the child care they need.
That means too many kids are missing out on a strong start in life.
When supply can't meet demand...
Full-day, full-year child care programs in Vermont only have about 12,300 spaces available for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and of those spaces, only 8,010 are high-quality according to the state’s STARs quality recognition program. If you look at just infants likely to need care, 62% don't have access to any regulated program.
The US Census Bureau estimates that approximately 71.5% of Vermont children under age 6 have all available parents in the labor force, meaning that they're likely to need some form of child care while a parent is working. This means that approximately 21,225 children under the age of 5 in Vermont are likely to need some form of child care.
...and the math doesn't add up
Vermont families are struggling to pay for child care. Middle-income families with two parents and two young children are spending more than 40% of their income on child care. Right now, the average cost of child care for a family in Vermont is over $20,000 a year—more than the cost of full-time, in-state tuition at a Vermont State College. As a result, parents are forced to make tough choices like leaving jobs or taking on extra work in order to pay for child care.
While parents can’t afford to pay more, early childhood educators can't afford to earn less. The median annual income for a child care worker in Vermont is only $27,600—often without benefits. This is LESS than what Vermont’s Joint Fiscal Office says is a livable annual income. Without a livable wage, early educators can’t afford to stay in the field.
...we are all impacted.
The early years are essential to ALL children.
From birth to age five, children’s brains are developing rapidly, forming over 1 million new neural connections every second, establishing the social, emotional, and academic foundation they will build upon over the course of their lives. The early years happen only once and are particularly vital to closing the opportunity gaps for Black and Indigenous children of color. Ensuring that Black and Indigenous children of color, who represent more than 10% of the total population of children 0-5 in Vermont, have access to the high-quality early education opportunities that meet their needs and the needs of their families is an important step towards a more equitable and inclusive society
Vermont families can't make ends meet.
When families are able to find child care, many are spending more than 30% of their income on child care, even with financial assistance. This financial burden dramatically impacts families’ decisions to grow their families, participate in the workforce, and even stay in Vermont.
Early childhood educators struggle to make a living.
Child care workers are so dramatically undervalued and underpaid, their compensation ranks in the?bottom 2%?of all occupations nationwide and of all college graduates, early childhood educators earn the least, nationwide. Without appropriate compensation and benefits, early educators can’t afford to stay in the field and continue their essential work, child care programs are unable to attract and retain qualified staff, and Vermont’s kids and families don’t have access to the care they need.
Vermont’s workforce and economy suffer.
Vermont’s labor force shrank to its lowest size in nearly 30 years in 2021 and employers of every industry cite a lack of affordable, quality child care as one of their biggest recruiting challenges. Our ability to thrive as a state, broaden the tax base, and maintain the workforce our businesses need to succeed, relies on retaining and recruiting families to live in Vermont. Without access to affordable child care, Vermont will continue to be an unaffordable place to live and raise a family.
But we ARE making progress...
We are accomplishing our mission through a four-pronged approach: strengthening early childhood education, building a movement, catalyzing policy change and grounding our work through research. We have brought together thousands of Vermonters who are calling for change as well as making the change in their local communities.
...and here's how you can help.
The need is clear, and the time is now to solve Vermont's child care crisis once and for all. Sign on to our 2022 Policy Agenda and become a champion for Vermont's children.
GIVE A GIFT
Your support goes directly to building a just and equitable high-quality child care system that works for all Vermonters. Because of you, this important work is possible.
BECOME AN ADVOCATE
Your representatives need to hear from you about how child care is essential to Vermont. Visit the Let’s Grow Kids Action Network to let your legislators know that it’s time to act.