Why Child Care

How Kids Grow

The first five years are the most critical time in human development. During this period, one million new brain connections form every second, laying a foundation for social-emotional development, learning and skill-building.

High-quality child care programs employ nurturing early childhood professionals who are educated in early childhood learning and brain development. These programs incorporate play-based activities that enrich and promote learning and development to ensure that children get the best possible start in life.

Research shows that children who have high-quality early learning and development opportunities experience greater success in school, relationships and life. This not only benefits the children, it's economically beneficial for our society as a whole.

Vermont’s Child Care Crisis


The US Census Bureau estimates that approximately 71.5% of Vermont children under age 6 have all available parents in the labor force, meaning that they're likely to need some form of child care while a parent is working. This means that approximately 21,225 children under the age of 5 in Vermont are likely to need some form of child care.


Full-day, full-year child care programs in Vermont only have about 12,300 spaces available for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and of those spaces, only 8,010 are high-quality according to the state’s STARs quality recognition program. If you look at just infants likely to need care, 62% (or approximately 3 out of 5) don't have access to any regulated program.

Check out our Stalled at the Start resources to find out what the child care Supply and Demand equation looks like in your county.

The Impact


Vermont families are struggling to pay for child care. Middle-income families with two parents and two young children are spending more than 40% of their income on child care.  Right now, the average cost of child care for a family in Vermont is over $20,000 a year—more than the cost of full-time, in-state tuition at a Vermont State College. As a result, parents are forced to make tough choices including:

  • Should they keep the jobs they need to make ends meet when nearly all of their paychecks go to child care?
  • Should they take on extra work to pay for child care and miss out on time with their families?
  • Or should they quit their jobs to avoid paying for child care and struggle to pay other bills due to the loss of income?


While parents can’t afford to pay more, early childhood educators can't afford to earn less. The median annual income for a child care worker in Vermont is only $27,600—often without benefits. This is LESS than what Vermont’s Joint Fiscal Office says is a livable annual income.

Without a livable wage, early educators can’t afford to stay in the field. In fact, child care is one of the top 10 occupations in the state with the highest number of openings, on average, per year. The Vermont Department of Labor has projected that between 2012 and 2022, almost 70% of child care worker positions that become available in Vermont will be due to turnover.

The Solution


We are changing hearts and minds by delivering persuasive messaging through engaging communications platforms to key audiences—including parents, early educators, leaders, decision makers and civic-minded Vermonters—to prepare and empower them to become volunteer advocates who mobilize their communities and demand state policies that reflect the needs of children and families.


We are partnering with early childhood champions within the state’s Legislature and Administration to generate political will among legislators to incite transformational policy change that prioritizes Vermont’s children and families.


We are working to ensure that high-quality child care programs can thrive and that more families can access them by creating new high-quality spaces to close the child care gap while promoting and incentivizing the use of innovative technology to solve costly challenges within today’s child care business model.


We are collaborating with diverse partners to implement innovative strategies—including business owners looking to mitigate lost productivity caused by employees experiencing child care challenges, and health care leaders interested in scaling up health care-child care collaborations to improve health outcomes for children—in order to create communities where children and families can thrive, and businesses can prosper.

Our Vision

Our vision is that Vermont is the BEST place to raise a family. And high-quality child care is the linchpin. When we achieve our mission, when children and families thrive, everyone thrives.


Studies show that children who have access to high-quality early care and learning opportunities are more likely to have strong relationships as adults and experience successful careers.


When parents are able to stay in the workforce, they benefit from increased earnings, retirement savings, tax revenue, health insurance and other career compensations.  


When early educators are supported, they have an opportunity to be more financially sound, efficient, sustainable and better able to deliver high-quality child care services.


Businesses thrive when their employees have access to reliable, high-quality child care that allows them to stay fully engaged and productive in their work.


When basic needs are met, families are better able to be active contributors within their local communities, helping to build a strong, healthy, resilient Vermont.


In 2017 a Vermont Business Roundtable report found that expanding Vermont’s early care and learning system would reap net benefits of $3.08 for every $1 invested, which would accrue to $1.3 billion in net benefits to Vermont’s economy over the working lifetime of the children served.

We all do better when we do right by our kids.