Growing people and making a kind future – that’s the most important thing.

Courtney Ladd absolutely loved her job working as an early childhood educator, but when she became pregnant, her family faced a heartbreaking reality: even with a substantial discount and guaranteed spot for her son through her workplace, her family still did not make enough money to afford child care. So she quit. 

Child care workers in Vermont earned an average of $26, 440 in 2017, but in many other ways, Courtney’s job was ideal: “It was the best place to work. They were so supportive, their trainings were amazing. We got 40 hours a year, which is just insane. It was so great to work there.“ She was provided with ample opportunity to grow in her profession, and she valued the high quality of care she was able to offer to the children, and appreciated the opportunity to provide social and emotional support to children who really needed it.

The close emotional bonds she had formed with one student in particular made it that much harder for Courtney to leave her position: “We had a couple of children there who ended up being taken away from their families and we were their family. We did their birthday party and we were their people. That was another reason I felt so sad to leave.” 

She feels fortunate that she gets to spend this time with her son, but the unexpected disadvantages have been challenging. She recounts, “I just couldn’t imagine leaving, but at the same time, I couldn’t stay. And being financially dependent on my spouse has been a challenge. I never imagined that either.”  

Courtney is so committed to early childhood education that she’s currently considering opening her own program sometime in the future. She and her spouse have taken over her family’s dairy farm in Alburgh, and Courtney hopes to provide some farming and stewardship education in an area with high need. She’s working hard to keep her license current by attending additional trainings when she can, and hopes to one day return to working with young children: “I just miss working with infants and toddlers in a group setting. Growing people and making a kind future – that’s the most important thing.”