Early education a crucial need
In Phil Scott’s recent mandate regarding school budgets, he addressed the need to level-fund K-12 programs in order to put more funding into early childhood education and day-care services. While this may sound like tough medicine, the need is real and the potential benefits are vast.
Right now, day- care availability is at a staggering low, while the associated costs continue to rise. Added to this, essential education and support services provided by the Vermont parent child center network are threatened by years of stagnant funding. Parent child center wages and benefits are 30 percent below market rates for comparable positions in education and state government.
The money invested in early childhood education services provided by Vermont’s parent child centers has multiple bonuses down the road. Aside from decreasing the rates of physical and emotional abuse in children, the proactive measures performed by the parent child centers reduce child custody rates, lower addiction and incarceration costs and decrease community health care costs. Whether you look at it from a moral or financial point of view, parent child centers are the preemptive choice for building a stronger community. To protect this investment, our Legislature needs to consider a funding increase of $8 million statewide for Vermont’s network of 15 parent child centers.
As a business owner and board president of the Rutland County Parent Child Center, I am intimately aware of strain that these organizations are under to continuously provide four-star quality in a financially sustainable way. It will be money well spent.