March 12, 2014
More than 170 early childhood advocates, care providers and legislators came together at the State House today for the 20th annual Vermont Early Childhood Alliance (VECA) Legislative Day. VECA, formerly known as Kids Are Priority One, is a statewide, independent, advocacy coalition of parents, community members, organizations, businesses, early child care providers and strategic partners. Attendees discussed issues and initiatives relating to early childhood, designated as ages zero through eight. Events included panel discussions, presentations, and exhibits, as part of a day of advocacy and awareness-raising.
Various stakeholders, including the Loan Fund's Executive Director Will Belongia, testified on behalf of young children, parents, families and child care industry workers on the importance of quality improvements, affordability and access to early child care and education in Vermont. VECA representatives presented their top legislative initiatives for 2014, which included increasing affordability and access to quality child care, improving professional development opportunities for child care workers, program quality improvement and children and family safety and financial security issues.
The event wrapped up with a luncheon at the Capital Plaza and the presentation of VECA's 2014 Child Care Champion awards, presented to ten child care advocates, three of whom have strong ties to VCLF. Awards were presented to: Kay Van Woert; Karen Burnell; VCLF board member Kim Keiser; Sonja Raymond; Kim Friedman; Caprice Hover; VCLF borrower Kay Curtis; Elizabeth Christie; Melissa Riegel-Garrett; and, Linda Michniewicz. The following were nominated for their contributions: Jody Marquis, Jessie Graham, Elizabeth Sanders, Lisa Guerrero and Joan Mahoney.