Vermont child care programs to serve hundreds more children thanks in part to $455,500 in grants and coaching from Vermont Birth to Five

Note from Let's Grow Kids: Vermont Birth to Five (VB5) is LGK's sister initiative. While LGK is engaged in advocacy to increase public investments in high-quality, affordable child care, VB5 is expanding the capacity and quality of the system we have today. 

Burlington, Vermont — Vermont child care providers will be able to open their doors to hundreds more Vermont children thanks to $455,500 in grants and coaching from Vermont Birth to Five (VB5), a statewide initiative of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children working to expand the capacity and quality of Vermont child care programs. 

The money, being awarded to 23 Vermont child care programs as part of a new VB5 program called Make Way for Kids, is aimed at addressing the critical shortage of high-quality child care across the state. In addition to funding, Make Way for Kids awardees will be provided with coaching from VB5 early childhood experts on business and program practices to ensure the long-term success of their programs. The Make Way for Kids program is part of the Permanent Fund’s strategy to ensure affordable access to high-quality child care for Vermont families by 2025. 

Make Way for Kids projects will result in the creation of 389 new child care spaces and 429 existing spaces achieving the highest quality recognition levels of 4 or 5 stars from the STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS), Vermont’s quality recognition and improvement system for early care and learning programs. All projects are expected to be complete by the spring of 2019. (Click here to see a full list of projects). 

“Vermont families are struggling to find and afford quality child care. With Make Way for Kids, we’re partnering with communities that are working to increase access to high-quality child care and create positive change for Vermont’s young children and families,” said VB5 Executive Director Janet McLaughlin. 

In April of 2017, the Vermont Department of Children and Families Child Development Division (CDD) released a report showing that the number of regulated child care spaces available in the state is declining. Let’s Grow Kids’ 2018 Stalled at the Start report found that more than half of Vermont infants and toddlers likely to need care don’t have access to any regulated child care programs and nearly 80% don’t have access to high-quality programs.

“Even though it’s rewarding and critically important work, child care can be a tough business to sustain because Vermont’s early care and learning system has been chronically underfunded,” McLaughlin said. 

The largest concentration of Make Way for Kids projects will take place in Rutland County, where several public school and community-based programs have come together to form a new Rutland Region Early Childhood Cooperative. VB5 has awarded $90,000 in grants to the Cooperative and will provide ongoing coaching to Cooperative partners who will meet monthly and work together to strengthen early childhood programs across the region. The Cooperative projects will result in the creation of 116 new child care spaces and improved quality for 309 existing spaces in the Rutland region.

“The Rutland Region Early Childhood Cooperative is an example of what is possible when communities come together to focus on the needs of young children and families. We hope these partnerships inspire similar work in other regions,” McLaughlin said.

The Permanent Fund launched Make Way for Kids with funding from the Turrell Fund and A.D. Henderson Foundation (longtime collaborative funding partners of VB5’s work), along with contributions from the Vermont Community Foundation, Canaday Family Charitable Trust and continued support from generous Vermonters. The federal Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge grant is supporting coaching and technical assistance.

“If we want to end the cycle of some of our state’s most tenacious problems—like a shrinking workforce, skyrocketing health care and special education costs and an opioid addiction crisis—we’ve got to start at the beginning, with our youngest citizens. Making sure our working families have the support they need to thrive in Vermont and their young children have the opportunities they need for healthy development is key to a stronger Vermont,” said Permanent Fund CEO Aly Richards.

The Permanent Fund is the parent organization of both VB5 and Let’s Grow Kids (LGK). While LGK is focused on mobilizing Vermonters to support increased public investments in high-quality, affordable child care, VB5 is strengthening the system we have today.

“Make Way for Kids is a strategic investment for the future of our children and Vermont,” Richards said. “We’re doing our part to alleviate an urgent need for more high-quality child care, but this only scratches the surface. We need everyone at the table to help create a sustainable early care and learning system that meets the needs of Vermont’s children, families, businesses and economy—because we all depend on it.”

Make Way for Kids is an annual program and VB5 plans to release 2019 funding applications in the fall of 2018. Awards will be announced in the spring of 2019. For more information about Make Way for Kids, visit http://vermontbirthtofive.org/make_way_for_kids/