Sep 02, 2016Caledonian Record
Lyndonville resident Betsy Bailey was named by “Let’s Grow Kids” as one of four Vermont Early Childhood Superheroes for going above and beyond to help young children reach their full potential.
Bailey, who began her career in early childhood education as a preschool teacher 23 years ago, decided to open her own child care center when her oldest son was 8 months old. In 20 years, her program, Little Dippers Doodle Children’s Center, LLC., has grown from 12 to 150 children.
Bailey said her program focuses on “strengthening the whole family.” Bailey is known for considering the needs of all children in her care, whether by advocating for children with special needs to receive needed supports and services, or purchasing clothing for kids in need, providing rides to doctors’ appointments or helping with foster care needs.
Bailey’s program has 5 stars, the highest quality recognition level possible in Vermont’s quality recognition and improvement system for early care and learning programs known as STARS (STep Ahead Recognition System). Bailey says that making sure all children have access to quality care starts with livable wages and benefits for child care providers so that continuity of care is assured and children have consistent and well qualified caregivers in their lives.
The selection of Early Childhood Superheroes followed a statewide call for nominations of unsung heroes among educators, child care professionals, parents, grandparents, volunteers, business peoples, policymakers, civic leaders and clergy. From the nominations, a panel of early childhood experts representing Building Bright Futures, Vermont Birth to Five, the Vermont Early Childhood Alliance and Let’s Grow Kids selected four Vermonters from various regions of the state who have demonstrated a commitment to the success of Vermont’s youngest children through “above and beyond” contributions to children’s lives.
“Early Childhood Superheroes understand what’s at stake when our children don’t have access to high-quality, early care and learning opportunities. They are working hard every day to address Vermont’s serious shortage of high-quality, affordable child care and they each deserve to be recognized for what they do to support Vermont’s youngest children,” said Let’s Grow Kids Campaign Director Robyn Freedner-Maguire.
The other Vermonters chosen for this round of Early Childhood Superheroes include:
Dana Anderson, of Middlebury, is the regional coordinator for Addison County Building Bright Futures. Dana strengthens Vermont’s early childhood system by securing grant funding for new programs and promoting collaboration within her community. Dana helped to create an educational early childhood TV series on Middlebury Community Television called Growing Bright Futures and now produces it every month. Dana says: “My hope for the future is to get more families engaged in wellness activities so the focus is on proactive health rather than fixing problems.”
Kristy Haapala, of Braintree, is the executive director of Waitsfield Children’s Center, where she works hard to maintain the highest quality rating possible: accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and 5 stars from Vermont’s STep Ahead Recognition System. Kristy is known for going above and beyond to meet the needs of families and young children. When a foster mom suddenly got the call from the Department of Children and Families that a 10-month-old baby was in need of emergency foster care, she called Kristy for help with child care. Kristy jumped into action to accommodate the infant, allowing the mom to care for and ultimately adopt the infant.
- Rachel Hunter, of Springfield, a home-based child care provider, works tirelessly to improve Vermont’s early childhood system as a Vermont Birth to Five mentor and through her involvement with Building Bright Futures and STARS. She also serves on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care. Rachel says: “I hope we can get to a point where all children can access quality care, that families can afford it and that they don’t have to choose sub-standard care to pay the mortgage.”
Let’s Grow Kids continues to seek nominations to join the ranks of Early Childhood Superheroes through an online nomination form: http://www.letsgrowkids.org/nominate-superhero.