Jul 08, 2016
Let's Grow Kids
Let’s Grow Kids applauds the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care for giving Vermonters an opportunity to weigh in before the commission issues a report to the governor and Legislature recommending strategies to support affordable, quality child care in Vermont. The commission is hosting five public forums around the state on July 25 and July 26.
The timing of these forums comes on the heels of the Stalled at the Start report, released by Let’s Grow Kids in May. The report revealed that almost half of Vermont infants and toddlers likely to need care do not have access to ANY regulated early care and learning programs. Almost 80% of infants and toddlers likely to need care do not have access to high-quality programs, defined as regulated programs with 4- or 5-star recognition levels under Vermont’s voluntary quality recognition and improvement system.
Additionally, recent statewide polling shows a growing majority of Vermonters believe the state needs to do more to ensure high-quality, affordable child care is available to all families who need it. 
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality Affordable Child Care was formed because the state recognizes this as a serious challenge facing Vermonters. More than 70% of Vermont children under the age of six live in families where all available parents are in the labor force. Many of these families are forced to make tough choices because of the lack of affordable, high-quality child care in our state. Vermont’s economy also suffers when businesses struggle to retain a stable workforce due to child care challenges. Lastly, we know quality experiences in the first five years, when 90% of the brain is developed, are crucial to giving children a strong foundation for future success in school, relationships and life. 
Let’s Grow Kids is in regular conversation with parents, providers and business people who are impacted by child care challenges every day. We know the commission has been working hard to understand this complex issue and work toward solutions. We’re especially pleased that the commission is hosting public forums in five locations around the state and seeking input not just from parents of young children, but also from child care providers, businesses, community members and anyone who has an opinion about how we, as a state, should support our children and families.  
The commission wants to hear more from Vermonters on the following three questions:
1. What would help you the most with respect to accessing high-quality child care? 
2. What are the responsibilities of Vermont to help ensure all Vermonters have access to high-quality child care? 
3. What should we do to make accessible, high-quality child care more affordable in Vermont?
These forums also come at a time when the cost of child care is making national headlines. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that child care prices have been climbing at twice the rate of inflation since the U.S. left the recession in 2009. American families with two children in child care pay an average of $18,000 annually, exceeding the $17,000 average annual expense for housing, according to Care.com.
According to a recent national poll, 70% of Americans believe children would be better off if government did more to support children and families and 63% of Americans favor increasing funding for programs and services to meet children’s needs. The issue has also come up in the presidential race, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton proposing to cap child care costs at no more than 10% of a household's income, or what the Department of Health and Human Services defines as the affordability threshold for families. 
Vermont families with two working parents making between $47,700 and the state median income for a family of four of $82,047 spend 28-40% of their income on child care (for two kids). While many parents can’t afford the tuition, child care providers often struggle to stay in business because they can’t charge what it really costs to offer a quality program. In fact, child care workers in Vermont make an average $11.95 an hour, less than Vermont’s livable hourly wage. 
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality Affordable Child Care includes leaders of state agencies as well as parents, child care providers and business representatives. More information is available at the commission’s website

Public Forum Times & Locations

*Click on the location to register & let us know you'll be attending the forum nearest you.

Monday, July 25:

  • St. Johnsbury, VT (AHS Conference Room, Vermont Department of Health, 107 Eastern Avenue), 5–6:30 PM
  • Burlington, VT (Champlain Senior Center, 241 N. Winooski Avenue), 5–6:30 PM
  • East Barre, VT (Aldrich Public Library), 7:30–9 PM

Tuesday, July 26:

  • Rutland, VT (CVPS-Leahy Community Education Center at Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen Street, Conference rooms B and C), 5:30–7 PM
  • Brattleboro, VT (Winston Prouty Center), 5:30–7 PM
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 success in relationships, in school and in life. Because Vermont’s shortage of high-quality, affordable child care is a serious challenge for our communities and our economy, our goal is to gain public support leading to increased, sustainable investment that gives all children the chance to reach their full potential. 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. 
Media inquiries: Contact Let’s Grow Kids Communications Manager Nicole Haley at 802-391-0545 or nicole@letsgrowkids.org
#  #  #