Scott appeals to Vt. child care workers: 'This is a moment of service'

 Gov. Phil Scott
Gov. Phil Scott (WCAX)
Published: Mar. 18, 2020 at 5:18 PM EDT
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Governor Phil Scott Wednesday outlined details of plans to close most of the state's child care centers while also maintaining services for the children of "essential" workers. In the face of coronavirus uncertainty, state leaders are encouraging educators and child care experts to lend a hand.

"We're asking others, including educators and child care providers, to step up and provide a critical service so that those who are on the front lines can continue to care for the sick, protect the public, and manage this ever evolving challenge," Scott said.

In the coming weeks, teachers and child care advocacy will have a big responsibility. "What our public health officials are telling us is that the best place for our kids is at home," said Janet McLaughlin, the CEO of Let's Grow Kids.

The state is closing all child care centers except those serving the children of essential workers including medical workers, law enforcement, fire crews, the National Guard, and those who work in grocery stores and the food supply chain.

The state is looking to school districts and child care centers to care for these kids. "Schools have been directed to provide care for enrolled students up to at least grade eight, and when necessary, from other towns and districts," said Vt. Education Secretary Dan French.

Right now, the state is working to identify about 1,000 facilities which can house programs while still maintaining social distancing guidelines.

In the meantime, it's unclear exactly how many child care centers will close, but state officials says those that depend on state subsidies will continue to receive them.

McLaughlin say she recognizes the burden it will place on child care centers across the state. "Early childhood education is chronically underfunded, and these are small private businesses and they are facing the same challenges that many small businesses across the state are," she said.

Scott says former state officials Neale Lunderville and Liz Miller will spearhead the state's child care efforts.

Let's Grow Kids is working with state leaders to collect the information. Worried parents can also call 211, extension 6.

Eligible families can complete the from the Agency of Education will help out with school-aged children through grade 8.

We're told the Child Development Division will help connect younger children.

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