Vermont could serve 3,000 additional children each day if centers were able to operate at capacity
Vermont Business Magazine Today is the national day of action “A Day Without Child Care,” intended to show policymakers and legislators that employers rely on working families’ access to early childhood education programs - but for many Vermont families, an early childhood educator shortage means that every day is a day without child care. A survey of Vermont early childhood education center owners and program directors shows 86% are experiencing a dire staffing shortage. On average, there are 3.1 open positions per center-based program.
These shortages mean 80% of surveyed programs are enrolling fewer children than desired – and programs are serving 10.1 fewer children per day than they would like to serve.
More than 100 program leaders – representing over a third of the state’s privately operated center-based programs – responded to the survey, carried out by the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC). With approximately 300 child care centers in the state, VTAEYC estimates that an additional 3,000 young children could be served each day each day if centers had the 900 additional staff members needed to operate at capacity.
“For every space that can’t be filled, there is a family whose struggle to find child care is that much harder. Early childhood education program leaders are working creatively and diligently to meet families’ needs, but they cannot serve children without staff,” said Janet McLaughlin, executive director of VTAEYC.
While the infrastructure is in place to serve another 3,000 Vermont children if today’s programs were fully staffed, there are another estimated 9,000 children who need care and for whom Vermont has no capacity. (Let’s Grow Kids “Stalled at the Start”, 2022)
“Given just how many educators are needed for these essential roles, it’s time to focus on transformation instead of tweaks,” McLaughlin offered.
VTAEYC houses Vermont’s project to advance early childhood education as a profession. Led by a task force of Vermont early childhood educators with input from thousands of their peers, the initiative is focused on transforming early childhood education into a cohesive, well-prepared and well-compensated profession.
VTAEYC’s big-picture perspective on Vermont’s current recruitment and retention programs for early childhood educators is informed by its members, who are engaged in the daily work of providing early childhood education, and by its role as a partner to the state in delivering workforce training programs. According to McLaughlin, those existing programs are only partially meeting the needs of the field – and more investment is needed to build a workforce that can meet the demand for child care in Vermont.
VTAEYC and partner organizations are prepared to work with Vermont state leaders and legislators on evidence-backed solutions to recruitment and retention, including increasing compensation, addressing financial barriers, and critically, workforce development. “We need Vermont’s Administration and Legislature, in partnership with nonprofits like VTAEYC, to create a robust workforce development effort for early childhood education – including expanded pipeline programs – as they have for other critical industries,” said McLaughlin.
The Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children is the state’s largest membership organization for early childhood educators and is the state affiliate of NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children. A nonprofit organization with 500+ members, VTAEYC offers advocacy, workforce development, professional development, debt-free educational opportunities, and other resources to its membership and others in the early childhood education field. With a small staff, a dedicated Board, and a collaborative approach, VTAEYC aims to meet the needs of today’s early childhood education workforce and create a stronger, more equitable early childhood education system for the future. Learn more: vtaeyc.org.
Burlington May 9. Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children