By Guy Page
Vermont’s early child care and education workers must be “well qualified, trained, and credentialed, accountable for high quality practice, and appropriately compensated,” a state advisory council told a room full of legislators, lobbyists and educators Thursday morning at the Vermont State House.
At present, many state-registered day cares are small operations run by moms whose training is mostly “on the job” and whose official credentials are non-existent. Critics say these day cares don’t prepare children for the academic rigors of kindergarten. Supporters say they provide a home-like environment for pre-school children, employment for stay-at-home moms, and a family-centered, affordable service for working parents.
Rep. Carl Rosenquist (R-Georgia) attended the briefing. He said day cares in his district fear training and credentialing standards could put them out of business. He knows of one 50-child day care that will close if these regulations take effect. He plans to introduce legislation calling for a training moratorium.
The Dec. 13 study by the Building Better Futures Advisory Council circulated at the meeting acknowledges that “Vermont will need to generate additional revenue” to pay these new trained, credentialed child care workers. It lists potential funding streams, including:
- Internet tax. (“Everyone’s got their eye on the internet tax,” one Progressive legislator said when learning of that suggestion.)
- Income tax surcharge.
- Tax on distribution and sale of marijuana.
- Recapturing federal tax breaks in state taxes for a net zero tax increase on Vermonters.
- Establish a dedicated Early Childhood Fund to serve as a “receptacle” for funding streams.
The advisory board also would fully subsidize tuition for families who cannot meet basic needs, and partial tuition for other families according to need. The study notes that with such assistance “families can get ahead by working more hours, getting a promotion, or getting a raise.”
The full plan of the Building Better Futures Advisory Council will be rolled out at a Statehouse press conference on Jan. 9, the first day of the 2019 session. It’s uncertain what new legislation will be proposed. House bills and resolutions will be posted to the Vermont Legislature website Monday, Jan. 7. Senate bills will be posted Monday, Jan. 14.
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.