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Child care centers struggle to staff with new state regulations - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Child care centers struggle to staff with new state regulations

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WILLISTON Vt. -

There are a lot of parents out there who know the frustration and worry over being on a waiting list for child care, and now you could be waiting even longer. Some child care centers are taking fewer kids because they can't find teachers who meet new state requirements.

One click on Craigslist is all it took to see job after job for early ed teachers from Middlebury to Stowe to Georgia.

Judy Bergeron co-owns Kinder Start Preschool in Williston. She says this is her 8th ad on Craigslist looking for a qualified teacher for her toddler room. It’s been four months and a lot of cash to advertise on different sites and no luck.

“We've already eliminated some spots in our toddler classroom,” says Amanda Menard who co-owns Kinder Start with Bergeron. She says they have five fewer spots and a waiting list. “I have people just busting down the doors wanting to get in.” 

Right now in Vermont new teachers need an associate degree in early childhood education, or up to 21 credits in early childhood classes, or a certificate from an apprenticeship program or the Community College of Vermont.

Bergeron and Menard are part of a group called Leaders Bridging the Divide. It's made up of people who run child care centers in Chittenden County. “Just between these nine centers, we are trying to hire thirty staff people,” says Bergeron.

“When we started trying to fill the spot in February, we kept telling ourselves, we're just waiting for the right person,” says Menard.

They haven't yet, which means Bergeron is back in a lead teacher role in addition to running the business. “I don't think they did the wrong thing by upping their requirement,” says Menard, “I think that part of it, it was necessary.”

To try to make things easier around here, Menard  is getting her teaching certificate. She says it's easy to see why many teachers jump ship to public schools with higher pay and good benefits, but her heart is here. “I am able to cultivate a philosophy that I believe honors the individual strengths of children in a way that is congruent with my education, and I really appreciate that so that's where I want to be and I want so badly to be able to sustain that,” she says.

So what kind of supports do they want to see? They say more financial support for employees who want to go back to school and help covering shifts.

Months ago state leaders said a guidebook would be coming out in March to help better understand the new child care requirements. Bergeron says that never happened.

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