To ward off the devastation of the coronavirus, Vermont is making a historic investment in early education and care.
“The state has promised a massive bailout to Vermont’s child care providers to stabilize the sector amid the coronavirus pandemic,” VTDigger reported last week, adding:
“In guidance issued last night, the Department for Children and Families assured child care facilities that the state will cover the lost tuition they would have received from families if they hadn’t shut their doors to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Aly Richards, CEO of the nonprofit organization Let’s Grow Kids, told VTDigger:
“That will put us first in the country in supporting the early childhood education field to be able to literally reopen at the end of this. Otherwise it would have been a real question, for probably every single program in Vermont.”
To keep early childhood providers up to date on this new policy and its implications, Let’s Grow Kids has posted a list of information and resources that explains the details and links to more information.
Included on this list are ways that essential employees can find emergency child care, a link to use to file for unemployment benefits, and information on how EEC programs can apply for financial support.
The goal is to provide real-time support.
Here in Massachusetts, where Governor Charlie Baker has declared a State of Emergency and closed early childhood programs, Strategies for Children is working with its partners to create a resource list that is similar to Vermont’s. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has shared this link with emergency child care guidance for families and providers.
In a March 30th email to the field, EEC said that while programs are closed, it will continue to pay for enrolled, subsidized families (who have vouchers and contracts), including parent fees. EEC is also working to automatically extend all of the subsidy reauthorizations that are due to expire during the State of Emergency so that families will not have any disruption in care.
Nationally, as states move forward, they should be inspired by Vermont’s leadership. Increasing investments in early education and care during this crisis is a way to increase investments in children, families, and the future.
Sonja Raymond, the owner of Apple Tree Learning Center in Stowe, Vt., sums this up, telling Vermont Public Radio:
“We’ve seen tons of glimmers of hope within people, and I think I feel very supported by our community. And I am very grateful to them for their — if not monetary support necessarily — but certainly well wishes and willingness to do whatever they can to be helpful. And I think we should all take pride in our humanity at this point. Because we are going to have to lean on each other if we’re gonna make it through this for sure.”