My family lives in Craftsbury where finding childcare has become a struggle for many families. Those of us in small towns have no access to large childcare centers and our registered home daycares have been forced to shut down due to expensive and sometimes ridiculous regulations set by the state. Our kids are bouncing from one caregiver to another because we both need to work. Our children have spent more time with aging and exhausted great grandparents and this means more screen time. We hired a very expensive nanny for the summer but she is moving on to further her education in the fall. We've spoken with several mothers in town who intended to start registered home daycares but when they start the process they back out because it requires too many changes to their homes at their expense. When did parents lose their ability to approve caretakers for their children? Why is the state telling providers that they can't serve juice? I should make that choice. WHY are they required to rinse clean dishes in bleach? Hospitals don't even follow this practice. There used to be plenty of good daycare providers available. The state is pushing them out of business and Vermont families are struggling. My husband and I have one month to find another childcare provider. If we can't, my husband will be forced to quit his job.
A Note from Let's Grow Kids:
In recent months, Let’s Grow Kids has been hearing concerns from child care providers and parents about the state’s updated regulations for regulated child care programs, some of which go into effect September 1. Providers are reporting that the updated regulations pose additional cost burdens to already financially-strapped programs, causing some programs to close their doors. These reports are prompting valuable discussions about the importance of high-quality early care and learning programs and how the chronic underfunding of our early childhood system has been negatively impacting Vermont’s families, child care providers, communities, and especially children. The revised rules establish minimum requirements in areas such as health, safety, nutrition, staff qualifications and developmentally-appropriate program activities.
The updated standards are a necessary step forward in establishing quality early childhood programming—but they are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to addressing Vermont’s child care challenge.
Vermont faces an alarming shortage of high-quality, affordable child care programs. This is due to the fact that even though on average middle-class parents pay 28–40% of their income on child care, the average income for providers is less than $25,000, usually without benefits or access to professional development opportunities, causing high rates of turnover. Supporting our providers’ success is critical to supporting our children’s future success.
Let’s Grow Kids and our sister organization, Vermont Birth to Five, are in close conversation with the Department of Children and Families Child Development Division (CDD). We understand CDD is working on a plan to provide training on the updated regulations so they can address providers’ questions and respond to any concerns. We also recognize many providers will need mentoring and financial support to implement the updated regulations successfully.
Our hope is the state will recognize that providers need financial support in order to increase program standards and meet updated child care regulations. Vermont’s future prosperity depends upon increasing access to high-quality, affordable child care for all families who need it.