LGK invests $1.7M to create 1,300 high-quality child care spaces

Let’s Grow Kids (LGK) has announced the second round of its Make Way for Kids projects. Make Way for Kids—launched in 2018 with the support of donors in Vermont and nationwide—provides grants and technical assistance to child care programs to help increase the availability and quality of early care and learning programs for Vermont’s children. In 2018 and 2019 combined, LGK is investing $1.7M to create 1,300 high-quality child care spaces for Vermont’s children though the Make Way for Kids program.

“Many people know Let’s Grow Kids for our communications and advocacy work calling for increased public investments in high-quality, affordable child care. But we’re not sitting back and waiting for change to happen. We’re also working directly with child care professionals across the state and investing in local communities to help more Vermont children access high-quality early care and learning programs right now. That’s what the Make Way for Kids program is all about,” said LGK Interim CEO Janet McLaughlin.

In addition to grants, Make Way for Kids includes technical assistance from experienced and well-respected early educators who travel the state providing customized support and expert coaching on child care program and business practices to help ensure each project’s long-term success.

Make Way for Kids is made possible by the generous support of many individual donors and foundations. A multi-year funding commitment from the Vermont Community Foundation (VCF) helped launch Make Way for Kids last year as one of VCF’s Cornerstone Partners, a program designed to help statewide organizations whose work is critical to closing the opportunity gap.

“The Vermont Community Foundation is proud to support the Make Way for Kids program. This program is making a real impact on an issue at the heart of the Community Foundation’s work: Closing the opportunity gap. For many Vermonters, getting ahead in life isn’t simply a matter of hard work. It’s a question of access. That’s why we want to make sure all Vermont children have access to high-quality early care and learning programs so they are prepared for success in school, work and life,” said VCF President Dan Smith.

Our 2019 Make Way for Kids projects are as varied as the local needs of the communities that LGK is partnering with to do this work. Here are a few examples of what these projects look like:

  • In Franklin County, where the child care shortage is particularly severe, Make Way for Kids is supporting the expansion of Georgia’s only child care center and creating 24 new child care spaces, including 14 new spaces for infants and toddlers.
  • In Windham County, an early educator in Brattleboro who expanded her home child care program in 2018 with Make Way for Kids support is expanding once again to become a center so she can offer high-quality care to more families in her community.
  • In Rutland County, Make Way for Kids is supporting the creation of a new child care center at Castleton University that will serve Castleton staff and students as well as families in surrounding communities. Castleton’s project is also tackling the early education workforce shortage head on with the creation of a new early education degree program. Students of the program will access experiential learning at the center.
  • In Windsor County, Make Way for Kids is supporting the renovation of the former Bridgewater Village School to be the home of a new high-quality child care center. Bridgewater currently has no registered or licensed child care options and programs in neighboring Woodstock have long waitlists. This project is an incredible example of a community coming together to tackle this problem with partnerships including town government, local employers, health care professionals and public schools as well as nonprofit, local and state agencies.

The Make Way for Kids program is part of LGK’s two-pronged approach to achieving its mission to ensure all Vermont families have affordable access to high-quality child care by 2025. At the same time LGK is advocating for increased public investments in high-quality, affordable child care, it’s making immediate, tangible change for today’s Vermont families by leveraging philanthropy and partnering with local communities to strengthen Vermont’s existing early care and learning system.

In addition to the Vermont Community Foundation, 2019 Make Way for Kids projects are supported with funding from the A.D. Henderson Foundation, Turrell Fund, Canaday Charitable Trust, National Life Group Foundation, Jane’s Trust, National Bank of Middlebury, O.P. & W.E. Edwards Foundation, William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation, and numerous generous individual & foundation donors.

Click here for a full list of 2019 Make Way for Kids projects.