A healthy, robust and flexible child care system is vital to any economy and recognition of this is increasing across the country and here in Vermont. A strong economic base which attracts young workers of child-bearing age must be built with a vibrant child care system as one of its legs.
Here in Windham County, there has been intensive work through various regional and local development groups including Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies, an affiliate of Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, to develop strategies to revitalize the local and regional economy. SeVEDS originated from the realization that the region was losing population, especially among young professionals and families. This past year Windham Child Care Association submitted a proposal to be included in SeVEDS’ comprehensive economic development strategy. We are proud that our proposal was chosen as one of twelve vital projects to be included in the regional proposal SeVEDS submitted to the federal government.
Our proposal focuses on two key strategies to support a sustainable child care system in our region:
1. Shared services business model. This model which is utilized in other economic sectors, decreases the duplication of efforts and allows for a more centralized and streamlined approach to the business-end of child care. Participants in the pilot have been able to combine and leverage resources saving both time and money. We have just completed the first year of a two-year pilot to establish a Shared Services Business model with family child care programs with great success! In this second year, we will be expanding the pilot to include licensed centers.
2. Workforce development. This is focused on workforce development for child care professionals. Windham Child Care Association works closely within the child care community to support the educational and professional growth of its members. We do this by providing relevant training through our ongoing professional development program, partnering with higher education institutions to provide opportunities for continuing education and providing mentoring to assist individuals as they enter into and progress in their career. A highly qualified and credentialed workforce provides working parents with increased child care choices.
These programs and services which help strengthen the child care field play a crucial role in the broader economic picture as well. An abundance of high-quality and affordable child care allows young families to move to and remain in the area, knowing they can advance their own careers and contribute to the growth of the local economy.
This is not a new conversation among early care and education proponents and policy makers, however it’s encouraging to see that these ideas are being recognized as a critical piece of the larger puzzle.
To read the full CEDs report submitted to the federal government, visit our website and click Join Us/Learn/Other Resources.
Elizabeth Raposa is the executive director of Windham Child Care Association. To learn more about WCCA, visit www.windhamchildcare.org or call 802-254-5332.