Bolton Valley Resort helps fill demand for child care

BOLTON, Vt. (WCAX) New options for child care closer to work and play in Bolton.

We've been reporting for years on Vermont's child care crunch and efforts to add more spaces for infants and toddlers in particular.

Last year in Chittenden County, 52 infant spots were added but 63 toddler spots went away.

And in 2017, vacancy rates in Chittenden County were anywhere from 1 percent-4 percent.

But in Bolton, the ski resort is stepping up with space to help fill a demand for child care in the community. Our Cat Viglienzoni takes you there.

Shredding the slopes-- that's what you probably think of when someone mentions the Bolton Valley Resort.

But just steps off the front lobby, April Hayes runs a space to take care of a young family's basic need: child care.

"There's a community up here and it just keeps growing," she said.

The resort's owners realized there was an opportunity to expand their seasonal program into a year-round service that would go beyond just their employees.

"So people are coming out of the woodwork and need child care," Hayes said.

People like Matt Crabb. The Richmond dad works from home but he can't really do that while also keeping an eye on 18-month-old Beatrice.

"It's really important to give me those days to work, but we also know that she is in a safe place and learning and having fun and being with friends," Crabb said.

They would have had to drive to Williston or farther if this hadn't opened up, as Katelin Morrissette's family did until recently.

"Given that we live up here, driving down there was a big challenge," Morrissette said.

Now, their little guy is just steps away from home.

"My little 2-year-old either skis to day care in the winter or bikes to day care in the summer and it's awesome," Morrissette said. "Yeah, we totally lucked out."

Liza Haskins actually came up from Williston but she works at the resort.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: What does it mean to have child care right here?
Liza Haskins: It means I get to keep my job and go to school, so I don't have to keep chasing her around and trying to figure it all out.

While Haskins also finishes up her criminal justice degree, Shyanna learns about caterpillars and more.

"I can just drop her off and go to work," Haskins said.

Eight families and nine kids total come here now. A couple more start next month.

Hayes says without a $20,000 grant from Let's Grow Kids, they would not have been able to remodel this unused space into a child care and ease some of the strain on families of infants and toddlers.

"These families just have puzzles that they're trying to put together. So to have consistent care and they can trust that they're taken care of-- I think it means a lot," Hayes said.

They're adding even more days of child care in the future. By fall, they hope to have it up to seven days a week.