I am a single, divorced mother of 3.5 year old twins and work full-time in a high-responsibility job in mental health program administration. I make more money than I ever have in my life, but finding and paying for 2 full time child care spots for twins has been an enormous logistical and financial stressor. I have my children full-time and receive some child support, and my income plus child support are above the income cut-offs for subsidized care, but are not enough to pay for full-time care in any of the local centers. We currently manage with a nanny share with another family and I am embarrassed at how meager a salary we are able to pay our extraordinary provider, Ashley. She deserves so much more.

My current challenge is finding 2 full-time preK spots for the fall in a community with very few centers yet approved to accept the Vermont Universal PreK vouchers. Without that money, I literally cannot afford to place both kids in full-time care next year and pay my bills. As a Clinical Social Worker who has been working with children and families for more than 15 years, I am frustrated with how difficult it is to find available child care spaces, how little our providers are paid, and how even a professional with a good income like myself is pinching pennies on gas and groceries in order to make my child care payments. As a single parent, I don't have the option to not work, so this bind is a very present and chronic source of stress and dismay. Vermont kids deserve high quality care from well-paid early learning professionals, but I don't know how we get there.

~ Shauna H., Montpelier

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