For the first time, child care is a priority issue in this election cycle.
This November, Vermonters will choose our state's next Governor and Lt. Governor. Let's Grow Kids asked the candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor the following questions:
Is high-quality, affordable child care an important issue for you?
If so, what would you do, if elected, to address Vermont’s shortage of high-quality, affordable early care and learning opportunities?
Candidates were invited to submit statements of 350 words or less. Their responses are below, arranged alphabetically.
Gubernatorial Candidates | Candidates for Lt. Governor
Sue Minter | Phil Scott
Expanding access to high-quality, affordable child care will be a high priority for me as governor. As the only working mother running for governor, I know the multiple benefits
of early childhood education. Children are better prepared to learn, and parents—especially women— can earn an income. Children who have high-quality early care and education are more likely to finish high school and continue beyond. With 50% of Vermont’s children arriving at kindergarten unready to learn, we must do more to improve education and caregiving for our youngest children—whose brains are already 80% developed by age three. I will work to implement universal pre-K and explore public-private partnerships to make high-quality, affordable early education, and parenting support available to Vermont families.
I will work with advocates and providers to improve quality child care through the STARS rating system and grow resources to improve access for quality child care services for more Vermont children and families. I will also work with schools to continue to build out Vermont’s universal Pre-K. In addition, I will work to provide access to quality affordable child care to all of our community college students. This will help ensure that our young adults have access to education, our kids have access to care and our businesses have access to workers with 21st century skills. Many young adults cite their children as a motivating factor for pursuing higher education or career training, but the cost and accessibility of child care remains a barrier. Parents are more likely to drop out of college than non-parents, and parents are less likely to complete their programs within six years of enrollment.
My Vermont Promise program of tuition-free community and technical college for Vermonters, coupled with quality child care, will break down barriers so that parents can get the education and training they need for livable wage jobs while their kids receive quality child care to succeed in school and in life. This will help shrink the opportunity gap, grow the economy, and break the generational cycle of poverty.
High-quality, affordable child care is very important. The most credible
research science available confirms it. With a child’s brain developing rapidly within the first five years, it’s important to make smart investments in early learning opportunities, specifically from birth to three when pre-school programs are not available.
My priorities—to grow the economy and make Vermont more affordable—work hand-in-hand with the initiatives we’ll design for working families and Vermonters with young children.
As governor I will focus on attracting more families to our state. This will improve our economy, wages will rise, and there will be more Vermonters to share the burden of funding essential government services and investments in our future. My goal as governor will also include helping Vermont families keep more of their income and that the cost of doing business in Vermont decreases—this helps all parents and child care providers.
We need to address this problem on multiple fronts. First, we can aggressively market Vermont and provide incentives to young people to move here to work and start a family. One of the best ways to do that is to ensure a robust network of high-quality and affordable child care. The second incentive to attract working families is to expand innovation and choices in education. Young families should look to every region of Vermont as having abundant educational opportunities for their children. Third, I will support the accountable implementation of Vermont’s universal pre-kindergarten law, Act 166, and build upon its likely successes. I think the law approaches the issue of affordable child care the right way by building public/private partnerships to ensure that children have the best possible opportunities and parents have choices. However, many questions have been raised about the equity of the law. I do not think it is enough and I will work with the legislature to craft reasonable and affordable solutions that prioritize early education without raising taxes.
Randy Brock | David Zuckerman
Every working parent in Vermont needs access to affordable, high-quality
child care. We know how essential this is both for parents and for kids to succeed.
Here’s how to start making such care available to those who need it:
Bolster the Quality, Availability and Viability of Providers. We need to support the hundreds of small, generally women-owned businesses that have been the cornerstone of child care in Vermont. Just as Vermont helps manufacturers, technology companies and others through our loan and workforce development programs, these struggling entrepreneurs can use more help in training, quality improvement, financial assistance and creation of a suite of tools, curriculum and programs.
Maintain a Strong Safety Net for Needy Vermont Families. We should ensure that our aid programs for low-income working parents recognize that child care is essential in helping people escape dependency. Our goal always must be to ensure that people who want to work are given a helping hand toward success. But we must focus our limited resources on those who are genuinely needy, and avoid creating another huge unfunded burden on already strapped taxpayers.
Reform Benefit Programs to Encourage Work. We need to transform the Agency of Human Services so that services essential to work, such as child care assistance are given priority. AHS needs to be a 21st century organization that helps people through tough times, not one whose policies can trap families for generations. An important first step would smooth out the so-called “benefits cliff,” which provides a disincentive to take an entry level job for fear of losing child care and other critical services.
Child care is not the only thing that is out of reach for hard-working Vermonters. Across the board, our state faces a crisis of affordability that is forcing our young people, retirees and small businesses to look outside of our borders for a future they can afford.
As Lt. Governor, I’ll fight for all of Vermont’s children and small businesses by fostering innovative ideas that will help grow our economy, provide well-paying jobs for more of our citizens and lower the tax burden for working Vermonters.
High-quality, affordable child care is imperative to ensuring current and
future generations get the start they need to succeed. As a father, I remember the challenge and financial burden of finding quality care for our daughter. I have advocated for kids and families throughout my 18 years in Montpelier and in 2002 received an award from the Vermont Children’s Forum for my leadership on issues important to our children.
Over the last 25 years, the working class has borne the brunt of tax increases and cuts in government services, resulting in severe income inequality. Families are feeling the negative impacts. One out of every six children in Vermont lives in poverty and half of those live in extreme poverty. This is unacceptable!
80% of Vermont infants and toddlers who need child care lack access to high-quality programs. It is clear we have an urgent need. This lack of high-quality child care hurts children, families, communities and schools, and negatively impacts society as a whole with increased costs, higher drop out rates, more crime, and lack of skilled workers. When critical services are provided at a young age the cycle of poverty is often broken and most children are better prepared to be successful students.
Economic studies have found every dollar invested in early childhood yields 7-10% in return in both childhood savings and increased productivity in adulthood. Accessible child care is good for business because it allows women to re-enter the workforce. Combining investments in child care with raising the minimum wage and ensuring women are paid equally ensures families will have the resources to pay for the quality their children deserve.
Addressing the needs of our children in their formative years is imperative. We can be more efficient in our current education and family services overlap. With those dollars, I will advocate for increased funding for child care subsidies and support programs for providers to meet safety and education regulations. I am deeply committed to this issue and will work hard to ensure our children have access to the services needed to build a prosperous and healthy future in Vermont.