I am writing in support of new legislation to support the formation of a Blue Ribbon Commission to research financing options for high-quality, affordable childcare in Vermont. I applaud Governor Shumlin for prioritizing this important issue by including the legislation in his 2016 budget proposal.
As a parent, grandparent, and a retired educator, I I have watched many young families struggle with the costs of childcare. Most families depend on two incomes. Often, having to pay nearly $12,000 annually in childcare almost defeats the purpose of both Moms and Dads working. On top of the high costs, it is difficulty to find quality programs with availability for infants. Also, 40-50% of Vermont children are not prepared for kindergarten; therefore, it is essential that we provide high quality educational experiences for all preschool age children.
Childcare is a critical workforce issue. When we help our children grow to become productive adults, we support our current workforce of parents, strengthen our community and invest in our state’s prosperity now and in the future.
• 72% of Vermont children under age 6 have both parents in the workforce. The majority of those parents are depending on childcare outside the home.
• The current unaffordability/inaccessibility of quality childcare for many parents is a primary obstacle to worker productivity and retention.
• We will not be able to retain or recruit young families to Vermont without addressing the significant shortage of affordable, high-quality childcare options.
• Taxpayers cannot afford the growing expenditures associated with negative outcomes, such as dependence on social services, substance abuse and crime.
We need a fact-finding body like the Blue Ribbon Commission to determine how to make high quality, accessible, affordable childcare and preschool education a reality for all Vermonters. Please sign the Lets Grow Kids Pledge at letsgrowkids.orgto show our policymakers that you also consider this a critical problem. Creating an avenue for positive change for our children and families needs to happen now.
Marilyn Grunewald, Retired Superintendent of Schools.
Franklin Central Supervisory Union, St. Albans