Windham Child Care Association envisions a day where all children families and communities have what they need to thrive. This is a time of rapid change for the Windham Child Care Association and for everyone who work in the early care and education field in Vermont.
On a statewide level, Vermont’s government in partnership with several private partners has started to implement the projects of the Vermont’s Early Learning Challenge – Race to the Top grant (ELC). The ELC is a $36.9 million, federally funded, four-year grant to help build a high-quality and accessible early childhood system so that all young children in Vermont will be ready to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
Most of these statewide projects seek to improve to the quality of children’s early learning and development opportunities thorough projects that build a highly skilled workforce through professional development, empower communities to support young children and families and build the state’s capacity to collect and analyze date to use ensure projects are making a difference.
For all of the resources and energy that is flowing around the Early Childhood system in the state, local early care and education professionals and the families that depend on them need Windham Child Care Association to be a strong voice to advocate for their needs and for the equitable distribution of resources.
There is a basic structural problem within the early care and education system.
Early educators struggle with unlivable wages and few benefits:
- Child Care workers are paid on par with parking lot attendants and pet sitters: $21,490 annually or $10.35/hour often with no benefits.
- 46% of child care workers use one of the 4 major social support programs: TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing
- Low wages lead to high turnover which impacts the quality of programs and affects the quality of children’s relationships
- In Windham County, home based early care and education providers median gross income is $27,650. 41% earn less than $20,000.
Families struggle to pay for child care – which can cost more than tuition at a state college:
- Full time care for a single child can cost between 12-14% of a married couple’s income, or up to 42% of single mother ‘s income
- Care at a high-quality center ranges between $10,068 to $23,950 annually
These issues do not just affect families. Any business that has employees with children depends on their workers having access to safe, reliable, affordable care for their children.
- Nationally business experience $3 billion year in losses due to child care break down.
- Locally 29% of families experience a loss of wages or work due to a child care breakdown
Access to high-quality early care and education is also extremely important to communities. Long-term studies document that $1 invested in quality early care can save up to $17 in later costs to taxpayers for programs like special education, criminal justice, welfare, and other social services.
Windham Child Care Association speaks out at every opportunity to educate the public and develop support for prioritizing early childhood. It is a founding member of the Building Bright Futures Regional Council of Southeast Vermont and collaborates with many statewide organizations, including the Vermont Early Childhood Alliance, Vermont Birth to Five and many others.