Let’s Grow Kids announces latest round of grants to increase child care capacity in Vermont
Vermont Business Magazine Newport parents who couldn’t find child care had been begging Sonia Koehler to reopen her family child care program for three years. By the end of the year, those parents will find some relief when Sonia opens a regulated child care home with space for six children with the support of a Make Way for Kids grant plus technical assistance from Let’s Grow Kids staff.
“I really missed working with the children and providing quality child care to the families,” Sonia said. “I was able to reopen Country Kids Daycare after making upgrades to my child care space and purchasing supplies and toys, all thanks to my Make Way for Kids grant.”
Sonia’s program is one of 12 projects across the state that received a total of nearly $400,000 in the latest round of child care capacity grants funded by Let’s Grow Kids (LGK) and the Vermont Department for Children and Families Child Development Division (CDD).
Generous donors helped LGK launch Make Way for Kids in 2018. The program expanded in 2020 with funding appropriated by the Vermont Legislature through CDD dedicated to increasing child care capacity in underserved communities. CDD also partnered with LGK to offer a specific grant program dedicated to building infant and toddler child care capacity, which is funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund.
Over the course of 2020, LGK and CDD have awarded almost $2.3M to help create 1,155 new child care spaces in Vermont.
“Vermont leaders understand child care is essential. We're so glad to partner with the state, local communities, and early educators to ensure more kids get the child care they need. Until our child care system is truly equitable, affordable, and accessible for all families who need it, we need to continue these important investments,” said LGK CEO Aly Richards.
Even before COVID-19, three out of five of Vermont’s youngest children didn’t have access to the child care they needed. And too many families couldn’t afford it. During the pandemic, Vermont has emerged as a national leader in stabilizing and supporting the child care industry.
“Child care is a critical support for Vermont’s families. Through this funding and other support programs, the state of Vermont is working to have more quality child care available to families. We are more committed than ever to these programs, knowing that child care is essential to Vermont’s recovery,” said Vermont Department for Children and Families CDD Deputy Commissioner Steven Berbeco.
The child care projects funded by LGK and CDD this year have been as varied as the needs of the communities they serve.
Parents in in Jericho and Underhill have struggled with few child care options. Mount Mansfield Union Unified School District saw an opportunity to address the community’s child care shortage and received a $75,000 grant plus technical assistance to repurpose the Underhill ID School as an early childhood education space and to find a local provider to open and run a new child care center. Annette’s Preschool took on the challenge and received its own $65,000 grant for equipment and start-up expenses; the new program, named First Roots, opened its doors in October with space for 24 infants and toddlers.
In Rutland County, ABC Early Education Daycare and Preschool received a $40,000 grant to help develop a licensed child care center and construct a new building on 3.62 acres of land near Castleton University. The project is expected to be completed by June 2021 and will have capacity to serve 58 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
See attached for a complete list child care projects that have received grants from LGK and CDD in 2020. Applications for the next round of grants will be due on January 20, 2021. Those interested in applying should sign up for and attend an informational Zoom meeting for applicants on November 30 at 6 PM or December 1 at 1 PM. For more details and grant guidelines, visit https://letsgrowkids.org/make-way-for-kids.
Let’s Grow Kids
Let’s Grow Kids is a nonprofit organization on a mission: ensuring affordable access to high-quality child care for all Vermont families by 2025. With over 30,000 supporters from all walks of life, Let’s Grow Kids is strengthening the early care and education system today and calling for lasting investments in child care. Together, we can give children a strong start and build a better Vermont for generations to come. Learn more at www.letsgrowkids.org.