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Vt. child care advocates make push for major investments

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 3:19 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - We’ve heard many Vermont parents complain about the cost of child care and the difficulty of finding providers. At the same time, many child care businesses are also often having trouble making ends meet. Now, there’s a push this legislative session to change that.

The state’s largest child care advocacy group, Let’s Grow Kids, is making a big pitch to lawmakers to overhaul the system in the next three years. Their goals include providing access to high-quality child care across the state in a way that families will not have to spend more than 10% of their gross annual income, workers will get a fair wage, and there will be a stable, long-term funding source.

But the group estimates that effort comes will come with a hefty price tag -- about $200 million. That’s why they’re proposing the changes take place over several years so that lawmakers, business leaders, and other stakeholders can work on identifying where that money would come from.

“It’s a large number and yet when we look at it as a transformational investment, that’s how we start gaining the sort of steam that we need to really push this over the finish line,” said Aly Richards, Let’s Grow Kids’ CEO.

She says investing in child care can have a stimulus-like effect on the economy and attract people to move to the state. The group will be having a press conference Thursday with lawmakers and business leaders to illustrate the broader support for this measure.

In his State of the State address, Governor Phil Scott talked about moving child care into the education agency and in his budget address Tuesday, he mentioned expanding the lottery to bring in $3 million more for child care and changing the tax code to level the playing field for pre-k providers who are currently taxed at different rates based on what kind of building their program is in.

Richards says they are open to talking about all of those things as long as the main priorities of affordability for families and a fair wage for child care workers stay in focus.

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