Mar 11, 2022

Blog: A Field Manager's Child Care Story

Blog: A Field Manager's Child Care Story
Emily Wagner with her family in Vermont.

I came of age at a time when No Child Left Behind was being implemented and arts programs were being slashed left and right in favor of what was being referred to as “rigorous academics.” Because I experienced some really fabulous arts programs as a kid and teenager, I became an arts advocate as a young adult. However, my first job out of college fifteen years ago was not in the field of art , it was in early childhood education (ECE). I was hired as an assistant in a preschool classroom and managed the business office. I loved the experience. But, there were so many problems within the field of ECE and I did not see it as a career for myself. A few years later, I was an arts educator finishing graduate school dreaming of one day leading an arts organization that made the arts accessible to kids and teens.

But then something happened – I had to leave teaching to care for my infant daughter because I couldn’t find child care. At first I provided child care for another family and then I worked afternoons and evenings leading an afterschool program.

After experiencing so much stress cobbling together child care, so I could work and earn a living, we moved out of state because my husband was offered a job where child care didn’t feel like such an economic necessity. We quickly realized how much we loved Vermont and that moving away was a mistake. We wanted to raise our family in Vermont even if it was financially more challenging .

Fortunately, I was able to land a job back in Vermont that seemed to be the perfect fit for the moment. My background assisting in the leadership in two child care and afterschool programs led me to first join the Let’s Grow Kids (LGK) Programs Team as a Community and Program Support Specialist, and then in the wake of the pandemic to the Field Team as Field Manager, advocating for affordable, high-quality child care. We would not have been able to make the move back to Vermont as soon or as smoothly without LGK and the generous child care stipend benefit that came with the job. This benefit made regulated, high-quality child care actually affordable, and I am fairly certain that no other job (at least in my search at the time) included that as a benefit.

Not only have I had the opportunity to help address the child care crisis for families and early childhood educators, but I have been able to work in the field that I love dearly . I am incredibly grateful for my time at LGK and amazed at how this advocacy work has progressed since I came aboard in 2018. I deeply believe Vermont is the best place to raise a family, but it is hard (to put it mildly) without access to affordable, high-quality child care. It really shouldn’t be so hard to live in a place that you love!

As you can see, the LGK mission is personal to me and I am so thankful to have played a part . I look forward to the moment, in the near future, when child care in Vermont is affordable and accessible for all, and we can finally say that Vermont is the best place to raise a family.

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