Mar 18, 2024

Cabot Celebrates New Child Care Program Made Possible by Act 76

Cabot Children’s Center recently opened in Vermont with Act 76 funding.

(Cabot, VT)ABC and LOL Child Care Center and Preschool recently announced its expansion and opening of the Cabot Children’s Center, providing 15 new child care slots and four new jobs for the Cabot community. The Cabot Children’s Center, which was able to open as a result of new state funding from Act 76, the child care law passed in 2023, serves infants and toddlers up to age three out of the renovated ground floor of the Cabot Church. ABC and LOL currently operates child care, Pre-K, afterschool, and summer camp programs in St Johnsbury and Peacham, employing 65 staff and serving over 200 children.

“I had families in Cabot reaching out to me, asking us to open a child care center in their town. Thanks to new state funding from Act 76, we were able to finally say yes and make this expansion possible,” said Heather Smires, owner of ABC and LOL and Cabot Children’s Center. “We’ve been seeing this across the state for years – there just aren’t enough programs or enough spots to meet the demand for child care. But now, thanks to Act 76, not only are we opening a new center, we’re also able to provide our staff with the compensation increases and health benefits they need and deserve.”

Act 76, the child care law passed in 2023, is in its initial stages of implementation. In the fall the state rolled out the first phase, readiness payments to help programs stay afloat and expand capacity. Beginning in January, child care programs began receiving greater reimbursement rates from the state – which Smires said were used to rent, renovate, and furnish the new program space in Cabot. ABC and LOL also used new funds to increase wages for staff and, as of March 1, to begin offering health insurance to program employees for the first time.

Like many programs throughout Vermont, ABC and LOL has benefitted from Act 76, but has also received support from statewide organizations like Let’s Grow Kids and First Children’s Finance (FCF), which provides business and technical assistance to child care programs in Vermont. Erin Roche, Director of FCF’s Vermont office, expressed optimism around the new program in Cabot: “It’s so exciting to see the Cabot Children’s Center and other programs throughout the state opening to provide much needed child care for their communities. At First Children’s Finance, we will support these programs every step of the way with business resources, so that they can continue to thrive and meet the demand for affordable and excellent child care in our state.”

The infant space at Cabot Children’s Center in Cabot, Vermont, which opened with Act 76 funding.

Aly Richards, CEO of Let’s Grow Kids, the advocacy organization leading Vermont’s child care movement said: “Act 76 is a monumental step forward for Vermonters as it infuses an additional $125 million annually into the child care sector, which will allow us to address many aspects of the child care crisis, from program capacity to early childhood educator retention, to the cost of child care for families. The crisis is not solved yet, but stories like this one from Cabot are proof that Act 76 and continued public investment in child care can truly transform our state.”

In April and then again in October, Act 76 will expand income eligibility for child care tuition assistance, helping more Vermont families pay for child care. By the end of 2024, over 7,000 additional Vermont children and their families may become eligible.

The Cabot Children’s Center is also being celebrated by employers in the area, including Vermont’s Cabot Creamery, which, after many years without sufficient child care options in town, now has access to a local, quality program for some of its employees’ children. Nick Managan, Chief of Staff for Cabot Creamery said: "The lack of child care in the area has been a challenge for the Cabot Creamery workforce and the broader community. The town of Cabot was considered to be in a vast 'child care desert,' meaning parents didn't have viable child care options in the area. That created a problem for parents, kids, and local businesses. Having a quality program like Cabot Children’s Center open in our community is a game-changer. It's a great resource for our whole community and will help both current and future Cabot Creamery employees."

Play space at Cabot Children’s Center in Cabot, Vermont, which opened with Act 76 funding.

The Cabot Children’s Center in Cabot, Vermont.

ABC and LOL Child Care Center and Preschool

ABC and LOL operates child care, Pre-K, afterschool, and summer camp programs focusing on exploration, discovery, creative expression, exciting adventures, and social as well as emotional well-being. It currently operates programs in St Johnsbury, Peacham, and Cabot, employing 65 staff and serving over 200 children in and around Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Learn more at

About Vermont's Child Care Campaign

Vermont's Child Care Campaign is led by Let’s Grow Kids, a nonprofit organization on a mission to ensure affordable access to quality child care for all Vermont families by 2025. With nearly 40,000 supporters, Let’s Grow Kids, in partnership with Let’s Grow Kids Action Network, is empowering Vermonters to advocate for sustainable child care policy change. Learn more at

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