Oct 05, 2016
Let's Grow Kids

Burlington, Vermont—A panel discussion focused on early childhood issues with gubernatorial candidates Sue Minter and Phil Scott will take place on October 14 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM in the Davis Center at the University of Vermont in Burlington. The panel discussion, hosted by Let’s Grow Kids and the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VAEYC) with co-presenting sponsor The Media Factory, will be moderated by WCAX News Anchor Darren Perron. The event is being sponsored by more than a dozen regional and statewide organizations.

This is the only gubernatorial candidate event devoted exclusively to early childhood. The candidates will be asked to answer five questions in three categories: child and family policies; economic development and early childhood; and the state budget. This event is free and open to the public.
More than 70% of Vermont children under the age of six live in families where all available parents are in the labor force, meaning these families are likely to need some form of child care while parents are working. However, almost half of Vermont infants and toddlers likely to need care do not have access to regulated child care programs and nearly 80 percent of infants and toddlers likely to need care don’t have access to high-quality programs, according to a recent report “Stalled at the Start: Vermont’s Child Care Challenge.”
“Vermont's shortage of high-quality, affordable child care is an economic development issue which impacts Vermont’s economy now and in the future, as well as our families, communities, and businesses,” said Let’s Grow Kids Campaign Director Robyn Freedner-Maguire. “Vermonters want to know how their next governor will address these challenges and this event offers candidates with an opportunity to present solutions and answer questions about their plans.”
Even though middle income families in Vermont with two working parents spend an average of 28-40% of their household income on child care, child care workers make an average of less than $25,000 a year, often without benefits. Low pay and lack of access to professional development opportunities contribute to high turnover of child care workers. The Vermont Department of Labor has projected that between 2012 and 2022, almost 70% of child care worker positions that become available in Vermont will be due to turnover.

“The Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children is committed to improving the education and status of Vermont’s early childhood workforce. We believe supporting early childhood professionals is essential to supporting the future success of Vermont’s children. We’re eager to hear more from the gubernatorial candidates on their plans to improve our state’s early childhood system,” said VAEYC Executive Director Sonja Raymond.

The Oct. 14 panel is being sponsored by more than a dozen statewide and regional organizations including the Vermont Business Roundtable, the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Vermont Early Childhood Alliance, the Vermont Childcare Providers Association, Building Bright Futures, Vermont Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, Let’s Grow Kids and Vermont Birth to Five.

More information is available online at http://letsgrowkids.org/gubernatorial-candidate-event.

About Let’s Grow Kids
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 future success in relationships, school and life. Let’s Grow Kids is working with Vermont communities, organizations, businesses and individuals to create positive lasting change that will allow all of our children to succeed in life. 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. Learn more at www.letsgrowkids.org.

The Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VAEYC) is an affiliate of the National Association for Education of Young Children, the nation’s largest membership organization for early childhood professionals. VAEYC’s mission is to enhance the quality of early childhood programs and professional practices, and advocate for young children (birth through 8 years) and their families in order to realize the potential of every Vermont child. Learn more at www.vaeyc.org.

About The Media Factory
The Media Factory is a nonprofit community media space in the south end of Burlington where RETN (Regional Educational Television Network) and VCAM (Vermont Community Access Media) are co-located. Together, these organizations are growing the space to include expanded opportunities for media-making and learning across the diverse spectrum of citizens in the greater Burlington area. Visit www.retn.org and www.vermontcam.org to learn more.

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