By David Flemming
Last month, Vermont’s Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) released a disturbing report about the state of home-based child care in Vermont. According to the report, Vermont parents have 26 percent fewer home based child care providers to choose from than they did in 2015, due in large part to over-regulation.
Act 166 is known mainly for funding universal public school pre-K in Vermont. But it also requires home-based providers to meet heightened safety standards, take classes on child care and hire licensed teachers to teach children. “A registered home provider that is not licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or early childhood special education shall receive regular, active supervision and training from a teacher who is licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or in early childhood special education.”
This has caused child care workers like Lisa Harris of Windham County to close down her home-based child care. “There need to be standards, but they’re often applied with no regard to all the red tape that’s involved and all the cost,” Harris said. Harris had run her home-based child care center since 2001, but shut it down after the new regulations went into effect.
According to the JFO’s report, Harris and 203 other providers registered in Vermont have since closed their doors, a decrease of 26.6 percent between December 2015 and June 2018. There were also nearly 2000 fewer child care slots during that time, a decrease of 25.5 percent.
With Act 166, our government has crippled a profession that gave Vermont child care workers the flexibility to operate out of their own homes. Some may comply with the regulations through clenched teeth. Others may decide to find less enjoyable jobs that require more travel. And then there is the group that may stop working altogether. Small wonder that our workforce has been declining.
David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.