Child care is a top priority for the House. Ensuring parents can access high quality, affordable child care in our communities is critical to giving all of Vermont’s children a fair shot at a bright future.
The House Human Services Committee has spent a great deal of time building its knowledge base around Vermont’s child care system as lawmakers get ready to consider a series of child care related bills. Vermont maintains a mixed delivery system made up of 1,246 public and private regulated center-based programs, family child care homes, and afterschool programs serving 32,432 Vermont infants, toddlers, preschool, and school-age children.
Statistics from the last three years show a marked dip in the number of child care slots that has resulted in targeted strategies and investments by the Agency of Human Service’s Child Development Division. These efforts are coupled with the work of advocates who are stepping up to address the problems with new facilities and home-based programs coming on line every month.
The biggest challenges for Vermont families continue to be access and affordability though it’s important to note that the quality of childcare programs is on the rise with more providers participating in the STARS program, the state’s quality recognition system. Businesses are also struggling to find early learning professionals to replace retired workers in the midst of low unemployment. In the coming months, the Human Services Committee will look closely at the low pay and benefits that child care providers receive in order to understand how to address the situation.