Child care is a lynchpin problem whose solution will positively impact outcomes in health, education, and economic development for children, families, and communities.

 

We’re at a moment of historic opportunity.

Awareness of the science of brain development and economic impact of investing early; political awareness and policy momentum; and bipartisan cross-sector support are building nationally and have converged in Vermont.

The need is sharply defined.

According to the U.S. Census, the 12.5 million children under five in child care spend an average of 36 hours each week there. In Vermont, 47% of infants and toddlers likely to need care don’t have access to regulated programs and 79% don’t have access to high-quality programs. Families in the middle income range with two children under five spend 28%-40% of income on child care.

Quality is inconsistent, and the number of child care programs is declining. In 2015, only 33% of providers who were in STARS, Vermont’s quality recognition system for child care, had earned the highest levels of 3, 4 or 5. Child care workers here earn an average of under $25,000 per year — and from 2010 to 2015, the number of regulated child care programs fell by 12.5%.

The science shows how much this matters.

By age 5, about 90% of a child’s brain has already developed. In the earliest years, the brain forms 700-1,000 new connections every second. These connections are strengthened through stimulating learning opportunities, good nutrition, and nurturing relationships with caregivers.

There may be no greater return on investment.

Children who get off to a strong start generate improved education, economic, and health outcomes. According to a study by Nobel economics laureate James Heckman, investing in early childhood program returns an average of $15,000 per child through reductions in crime, social welfare spending, and other costs down the road. A new report by the Vermont Business Roundtable predicts a $3.08 return on investment for every dollar invested in Vermont on early childhood programs. Savings projections are derived from reduced costs for public education, health care, and justice, plus great net lifetime earnings and tax revenues.

Investments in Vermont early childhood programs yield $3.08 for every $1 invested.

With your help, our goal is achievable.

We have the opportunity to create a scalable, statewide model for early care and education that improves the lives and opportunities for all Vermonters. With your support, we’ll waste no time achieving that goal and paving the way for national reform in early childhood. Let’s work together to solve this problem in Vermont, for the nation.