Feb 28, 2017VT Digger
New regulations for child care providers that have been in place since September may have forced providers to close.
Over a six-month period beginning at the end of May, 49 licensed child care centers were shuttered, while 47 new ones opened. Home child care programs fared much worse, with a net loss of 51 programs during the same period, according to a report from the Burlington Free Press.
New regulations that went into effect last spring were a factor in the closings. State officials spent four years developing the rules with input from child care providers.
Let’s Grow Kids, a nonprofit advocacy group that campaigns for high quality affordable child care in Vermont, said the closings are troubling because the state is already facing a serious shortage of child care providers.
Robyn Freedner-Maguire, the director of Let’s Grow Kids, blames a chronic lack of state investments in quality child care.
“In many cases, the regulations were the final straw for businesses already on the edge. We need regulations to ensure the safe and healthy development of our children, but when child care providers can’t afford to invest in their programs for the sake of our kids, we know the system is seriously challenged,” Freedner-Maguire said in a statement.
Freedner-Maguire says the system has been “chronically underfunded for decades” and the Child Care Financial Assistance Program, which helps low income and working families pay for child care, has not increased payments to providers since 2008.
Providers need to make enough money to invest in staff. High-quality child care programs hire professionals with credentials in early education and development.
Gov. Phil Scott’s budget proposal would add $7.5 million to child care subsidies.
Reeva Murphy, who works with the Child Development Division at the Department for Children and Families, said the governor’s plan would increase the capacity and quality of child care programs.