As an East Montpelier resident, parent of a high school senior and a professional children’s advocate for 29 years, I am excited about the efforts that Vermont is making to help our children get a strong start. I think back to my daughter’s early years and remember how painfully difficult it was for our working family to afford quality child care. Things haven’t gotten easier. More than 70 percent of Vermont’s children under age 6 live in households where all parents are in the labor force. Many of these families cannot afford quality care. All Vermont children deserve an equal opportunity to engage in stimulating and safe child care opportunities.
During Vermont’s 2016 legislative session, legislators will discuss Vermont’s Child Care Financial Assistance Program, which provides tuition assistance to families who meet financial, work or education criteria, making child care and early learning programs more affordable. CCFAP tuition assistance rates have only increased 3 percent since 2008, leaving a serious gap between how much assistance the state will provide and how much quality care actually costs. This gap means big challenges for families and for child care providers.
I urge my fellow Washington County residents to join Let’s Grow Kids in their public awareness and engagement campaign. Please support the work and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care which was created by Act 58 in 2015. By November 2016, the commission will release recommendations on how we can better serve Vermont’s children.
You can learn more about Vermont’s child care challenges and the importance of early childhood development at Let’s Grow Kids’ website, www.letsgrowkids.org.
We must invest in the early years. Join our campaign to provide high-quality, affordable child care for all Vermont children who need it.
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