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May 20, 2016

Stalled at the Start: Analysis reveals Vermont's child care challenge

Burlington, Vermont—  A new report about the supply of and demand for child care in Vermont reveals that an alarming number of Vermont’s infants and toddlers likely to need care don’t have access to high-quality, affordable child care. 

More than 70% of Vermont children under age 6 are likely to need to some form of child care because their parents are in the labor force. A new report called “Stalled at the Start: Vermont’s Child Care Challenge” found that 79% of Vermont infants and toddlers likely to need care do not have access to high-quality programs. The situation is even worse when looking at access for infants alone: more than 85% of Vermont infants who are likely to need care do not have access to high-quality child care.  Click here to download the full report.  

The report was released at a May 18th event hosted by Let’s Grow Kids at the Comfort Suites in South Burlington to a room full of legislators, business leaders, state agency leaders, child care providers and early childhood advocates. Presenters including Tom Torti, president and CEO of Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, and State Representative Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero), talked about the impact of Vermont’s child care shortage on families, businesses and communities. 

“The sooner we teach kids how to work in teams and communicate, the better off they’ll do when they grow up and get into the workforce. Businesses need employees who already know how to collaborate,” said Torti. 

Torti stressed that businesses and government need to invest in the types of attributes that make people want to come to Vermont to raise their families and to start businesses—one of those attributes is access to high-quality, affordable child care.

Aly Richards, CEO of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, talked about the many ways that the quality of early childhood experiences impacts other issues Vermonters care about. From the stressed employee who can’t focus at work because they can’t find child care to teachers having to spend time addressing behavioral issues that detract from learning because students did not develop appropriate social-emotional skills in the first five years of life, Richards challenged the audience to “pick almost any issue—you can trace it back to early childhood.”

“This is a root issue that affects everything we care about for our families, our children and our state,” Richards said. 

The report—completed in partnership with Vermont Birth to Five, Building Bright Futures, the Vermont Department for Children and Families Child Development Division and the Vermont Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Division—evaluated the supply of regulated (licensed and registered) early care and learning programs, using data provided by the Child Development Division (CDD), and compared that data to the number of children likely to need care, based on Vermont Department of Health population estimates and information from the US Census Bureau on the percent of Vermont children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force.

The event included an opportunity for the audience to engage in a question and answer session with the partners who helped to inform the project and concluded by engaging attendees in discussion about the analysis and how this information can inform work being done in communities throughout the state. 

Let’s Grow Kids is a public awareness and engagement campaign about the important role that high-quality, affordable child care can play in supporting the healthy development of Vermont’s children during their first five years—the most important years for laying a foundation for success in relationships, in school and in life. Because Vermont’s shortage of high-quality, affordable child care is a serious challenge for our communities and our economy, our goal is to gain public support leading to increased, sustainable investment that gives all children the chance to reach their full potential. Let’s Grow Kids is an initiative of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children with support from the A.D. Henderson Foundation and the Turrell Fund. 

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