How Castleton University hopes to ease Vermont's child care struggle

Published: Jan. 20, 2020 at 2:35 PM EST
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Many families across the state struggle to find quality child care. But one Vermont school is trying to help ease that burden. Our Olivia Lyons takes you to Castleton University to see how.

A home that once served as a venue for university parties will be hosting a much younger crowd. The president's home at Castleton University is being renovated into an Early Education Center.

"It's hard to watch parents really struggle to find care for their children," said Heather Martin, the director of the new center at Castleton University.

Martin says the new center benefits the area by providing a much-needed preschool and child care for about 50 kids ranging from newborn to 5 years old. It also acts as a lab for Castleton's new Early Childhood Education and Special Education dual major, set to launch July of this year.

"Our workforce is so tiny in Vermont that you really need the child care available so parents can really jump in and join the workforce when they want to," Martin said.

Many centers around the state are being forced to close because of a lack of funding or because families can't afford the rates. A majority of the slots at Castleton's center will be reserved for low-to-moderate-income families from Rutland County.

"We really want to see our greater community bring their families here. And I think, in addition, this is a great opportunity for new families to move to Castleton and the Rutland region knowing that they will have high-quality child care accessible to them," said Karen Scolforo, the president of Castleton University.

Scolforo is moving out of her six-bedroom home and down the road to a much smaller one-bedroom cottage on campus.

"I'll be smack in the middle of our students as they're wandering around," she said.

The cottage is only temporary housing for the president. She says they are fixing another house, currently, and they expect that it may be livable by fall.

Temporarily downsizing to permanently support a growing need.

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