Feb 27, 2023

Reflections on Black History Month and Equitable Child Care

Fanny Jackson Coppin; Septima Poinsette Clark; Mary McLeod Bethune
Left to right: Fanny Jackson Coppin; Septima Poinsette Clark; and Mary McLeod Bethune

As Black History Month comes to a close, we reflect on the Black leaders who shaped the education field as we know it today. Fanny Jackson Coppin advocated for women’s higher education and served as the first African American principal. Mary McLeod Bethune founded the Bethune-Cookman college and became the highest-ranking African American woman in government, working with President Franklin Roosevelt. Septima Poinsette Clark taught literacy and math to African Americans so they could register to vote. (Learn more about Black contributions to education here.)

Through our work with the Child Care Campaign’s Families of Color Advisory Committee, we continue to build on the efforts of these Black leaders, improving equity and opportunities for all. Within this collaboration, the committee has worked to inform child care policy by connecting BIPOC parents, educators, and leaders to these necessary conversations with the aim of creating a truly inclusive early childhood education (ECE) system that works for all of Vermont’s families.

Quality ECE programs reflect the strengths, values, and uniqueness of Vermont and its communities. For BIPOC families, that means seeing our cultures reflected in educational environments, giving our children access to the natural world and environmental stewardship opportunities, and creating a communicative and transparent ECE system. It also means making programs more accessible to children of color, so our children are not the only Black children in their classes; and investing in a diverse staff so they have teachers who look like them, understand them, and can create a safe environment for them.

As parents, it is easy for us to support affordable and accessible child care. As Black Vermonters, we see the child care solution as essential for making our home state a more equitable place to live. We are grateful to everyone who has joined Vermont’s Child Care Campaign and for your commitment to support early childhood education for all families.

This Black History Month and every month, let’s continue the fight of Black leaders before us to actualize a more equitable child care system for families of color and to ensure a better future for all Vermonters. To learn more, check out these resources for dismantling racism in early childhood education.

This article was submitted by Britaney Watson and Ilia Gilligan, members of the Child Care Campaign's Families of Color Advisory Committee.

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