Aug 18, 2022

Vermont Business: Groeneveld and Lesser-Goldsmith: Our employees need child care, public investment is the solution

We all faced a barrage of unforeseen challenges when the pandemic arrived. As employers who deeply care about our teams, we prioritized the health and safety of our dedicated employees to ensure their critical onsite work could continue. While we’ve done our best to address each new pandemic-related challenge, there’s one ongoing crisis we’ve been unable to overcome.

That crisis is child care. Affordable, high-quality child care is essential to all Vermonters. Since the pandemic began, child care has become even more difficult for our employees to find and afford, and for early childhood educators to provide.

Right now, thousands of children and families throughout Vermont can’t access the child care they need. The scope of this problem encompasses our state’s ability to entice new businesses, create jobs, recruit top talent, and attract more young families and working adults. The child care crisis is both costing us money and limiting our ability to fill essential roles — a combination that will continue to have long-term ramifications for Vermont employers. But we can change this.

To effectively address the child care crisis, we need to increase public investments in Vermont’s child care system for children ages 0–5 to make it affordable for families, and to fairly compensate early childhood educators for their essential work.

The child care advocacy organization Let’s Grow Kids estimates there are at least 5,000 adults in Vermont who want to re-enter the workforce or increase their working hours but are unable to do so because they can’t find or afford child care. This is too many Vermonters to exclude from our workforce. Research shows that enabling these parents to enter the workforce would boost Vermont’s economy by at least $375 million year after year.

We chose to build our businesses in Vermont because we love the state’s resilience, grit and community. Vermont has the quality of life so many people are looking for and the potential for new businesses to establish themselves here, but only if we can support our workforce with high-quality, affordable and accessible, child care.

That’s why — as business leaders — we’ve endorsed Vermont’s Child Care Campaign and call on other employers to do the same. Declaring your support for the campaign and for public investment in our state’s child care system is not only the right thing to do for your employees but for Vermont’s economic future.

Roland Groeneveld is co-founder and executive chair, Lisa Groeneveld is co-founder and vice chair, of OnLogic in South Burlington; Eli Lesser-Goldsmith is co-owner and chief executive officer, Nina Lesser-Goldsmith is co-owner and chief operations officer, of Health Living locations in South Burlington and Williston.

Read the original op-ed on Vermont Business Magazine here.

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