Vermont Raises Attention to the Needs of Infants and Toddlers
Policy leaders and advocates in Vermont are taking steps to raise awareness of and address the needs of infants and toddlers in the state.
For the past two years, the Everything Matters for Babies (EMFB) group, a working group of public and nonprofit sector leaders has been meeting to develop and advance infant-toddler policy priorities. The EMFB group has focused their efforts on three priorities: (1) sustaining investment in evidence-based home visiting programs; (2) coordinating community efforts around developmental screening and referral; and (3) tracking and expanding informal supports for families with young children, such as playgroups and library story times. The EMFB has provided a hub for focused cross-sector attention on these issues, at the same time that state agencies are implementing universal preschool, a Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge grant, and other federally-funded early childhood initiatives. ZERO TO THREE supported Vermont in the creation and work of the EMFB group through a technical assistance project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. EMFB group members plan to continue to promote these and other infant-toddler priorities in coordination with the state’s early childhood advisory council in the next year.
In addition, Let’s Grow Kids, a Vermont public awareness campaign focused on child care, has released data on the need for greater investment in high-quality child care for infants and toddlers. Their recent report Stalled at the Start finds that nearly half of the state’s infants and toddlers likely to need child care lack access to regulated care and the majority (79%) lack access to high-quality programs. These findings will inform a report developed later this year by the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High-Quality, Affordable Child Care.