Aug 18, 2021

Let’s Grow Kids Joins Senator Leahy in Announcing Support for Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Child Care Facility

Let’s Grow Kids (LGK) CEO Aly Richards joined U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) at Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) today to celebrate the senator’s support of the hospital’s proposed expansion of Learning Tree Child Care Center at SVHC. Senator Leahy has requested $750,000 to support child care expansion in Bennington in his 2021 Congressionally Directed Spending requests. The proposed expansion could double the capacity of this high-quality program, serving more SVCH employees and the broader Bennington community.

LGK’s CEO Aly Richards said: “Let’s Grow Kids is excited to partner with Senator Leahy and SVHC to give more children in Bennington County access to high-quality child care. We are fortunate to have representatives like Senator Leahy in Congress who are fighting for significant investments because they understand that child care is essential infrastructure for Vermont’s children and families as well as our economy.”

Bennington County suffers from a severe lack of child care availability. According to 2019 census data collected by LGK, Bennington needs 555 additional child care spaces and 132 additional early childhood educators to meet the needs of its families. The need is particularly acute for infants, 61% of whom do not have access to the child care they need. The lack of child care is a significant barrier for local businesses as they seek to hire and retain workers.

Senator Leahy said: “Families need access to affordable child care in order to work, participate in their communities and thrive. Here in Bennington County, that critical resource is scarce, and Southwestern Vermont Health Care and Let’s Grow Kids are taking a leadership role in addressing the community’s needs. I am proud to support the hospital’s efforts to expand child care in Bennington County.”

SVHC’s president and CEO Tom Dee said: “Our region is grateful for Senator Leahy’s support. Bennington County needs additional child care facilities for its employees as well as for business recruitment. Our child care center, The Learning Tree, offers an incredible and valuable program, but is limited in its capacity and the current space prevents expansion.”

“Vermont suffers from a significant workforce shortage, especially in health care and that is why this partnership with SVHC is so critical,” added Richards. “Ensuring that health care providers and staff have high-quality care for their children will in turn ensure they are able to care for us. Thanks to our delegation and support at the federal level and state investments like those included in H. 171—legislation that Let’s Grow Kids helped to pass in 2021—Vermont is poised to solve the child care crisis once and for all.”

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