Advocates brave snow for Early Childhood Day at the Legislature
Montpelier, Vermont – Despite record snowfall for the second year in a row, 150 early childhood advocates braved snowy roads to participate in Early Childhood Day at the Legislature (ECDL) on March 14. People from all over the state attended to ask the 65 participating legislators and administrators to invest in kids; 330 had registered for the day but attendance was reduced due to the weather.
ECDL is an annual day of advocacy, education, and networking, organized by the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance, Let's Grow Kids, and Building Bright Futures, that brings together early childhood professionals and providers, parents, employers, business owners, and policymakers to focus on early childhood issues.
In her opening remarks, Sarah Squirrell, Executive Director of Building Bright Futures, reflected on the strength of engagement in the early childhood community. “It’s like looking at over 200 mirrors reflecting back to me the hope we have for the future of Vermont’s children,” said Squirrell. “We look forward to taking care of Vermont’s citizens. It is what makes us the great state that we are.”
Governor Phil Scott spoke during the opening session. “I want to thank you for the work you’ve done to advance the conversation around early care and learning,” Scott said. He continued, “We would not be where we are today without your efforts. More importantly, we will not get where we need to go without you.”
Children Unlimited, a child care program in Williston, sent many of its staff to ECDL. One of the program’s early educators, Erin Thompson, said she came to ECDL because she would like to see changes in programming that benefits young children and families. “I’d like to make sure we’re doing the right thing by Vermont’s children,” said Thompson.
The day included advocacy seminars; a Rally for Kids with speeches by advocates and legislators; and a luncheon attended by legislators and administrators that gave advocates the opportunity to speak one-on-one with their policy makers about key issues such as: high-quality, affordable child care; family and medical leave insurance; and funding for Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) as well as other issues from the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance 2018 Legislative Agenda. (See the full list of priority issues covered, here: bit.ly/2018LegAgenda.)
The day included the second annual Rally for Kids in support of high-quality, affordable child care. Advocates filled the Cedar Creek Room and listened to impassioned speeches by legislators and advocates, including: Rep. Ann Pugh; Senators Becca Balint and Richard Westman; Ellen Drolette, a family child care provider from Burlington; and Chloe Learey, Executive Director of the Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development in Brattleboro.
“The earliest years form the basis for everything else that happens in someone’s life,” said Rep. Pugh, who chairs the House Committee on Human Services. “The research is clear that children who have high-quality early learning and development opportunities experience greater success in school, work, relationships, and life.” The Rally closed with a flash mob performance of the “Something Beautiful” anthem for kids.
About Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance
The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a statewide advocacy coalition formed in 2000 of early childhood professionals and providers, parents, and employers committed to improving public policies that impact young children from birth to age eight on issues of health, safety, nutrition, economic security, and early care and education. The Alliance crafts an annual Legislative Agenda in partnership with early childhood organizations, provides year-round advocacy support, and facilitates meaningful interactions with policymakers at key times during the decision making process. The Alliance is a program of the Vermont Community Loan Fund. For more information visit www.vecaa.org.
About Let’s Grow Kids
Let’s Grow Kids is a statewide public awareness and advocacy campaign designed to educate the public about the need for more high-quality, affordable child care in Vermont and to build public will for sustainable increased public investments in high-quality, affordable child care to better support our children, families, communities and economy. Let’s Grow Kids is an initiative of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, a privately funded nonprofit whose mission is to ensure all Vermont families have affordable access to high-quality child care by 2025. Learn more at www.letsgrowkids.org.
About Building Bright Futures
Building Bright Futures is a 501c3 nonprofit charitable organization and the designated Vermont Early Childhood Advisory Council to the Governor, Administration and Legislature in Vermont. BBF is the statewide nonprofit, public-private partnership focused on improving the well-being of young children and families by improving the system that serves them. BBF improves child and family well-being through three program areas: Community, Data and Policy. For more information visit http://buildingbrightfutures.org/.