On January 21, the Loan Fund’s Director of Child Care Programs, Hope Campbell, testified before the Vermont Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care on behalf of the child care advocacy group Let’s Grow Kids.
Let’s Grow Kids is a public awareness and engagement campaign focusing on the role that high-quality, affordable child care can play in supporting the healthy development of Vermont’s children during their first five years. Recent studies have shown ages zero to five to be the most eventful in terms of the development of neurological connections that impact a child’s success in school and beyond.
Speaking from nearly two decades of experience working with child care professionals, Campbell told the commission “I came into this field with tight profit margins. And they have gotten tighter.”
Campbell has been a vocal supporter of efforts to improve and standardize quality in the child care field, yet expressed her concerns about the realities of running a quality program. “We’re improving quality but not paying for it,” Campbell said. “We need to figure out how we can help families and keep providers in business at the same time.”
Tracy Patnoe, former owner of Mud City Kids Child Care in Morrisville and VCLF borrower testified to the commission, as well. Patnoe corroborated Campbell’s concerns.
“I know families struggle,” Patnoe said, explaining that she did not feel she could charge the actual costs of care. As a result, she could not typically pay her employees a livable wage, which led to high staff turnover. “It’s a struggle to maintain a quality program on a very limited budget,” Patnoe told the commission.
Studies also have shown that children attending high-quality child care programs:
• score higher on school readiness tests
• are 40% less likely to need special education or to be held back a grade
• are 70% less likely to commit a violent crime by age 18
A subcommittee of the Blue Ribbon Commission is now working on a framework to define quality, and to determine the costs of quality care.