Vermont’s Governor Scott signed H.171 into law in the 2021 legislative session, making child care more accessible and affordable. The bill gained nearly unanimous support from Republican, Democrat, Progressive, and Independent legislators with just one opposing vote. It invests $12.7 million of both state dollars and federal American Rescue Plan funds to stabilize the system through financial assistance for families, compensation for providers, and improving data and technology infrastructure. Vermont allies at Let’s Grow Kids have been working diligently to advocate for this bill as part of a three-year campaign to transform the state’s child care system. Let’s Grow Kids worked with child care providers, grassroots advocates, and early childhood champions to support their campaign for positive, equitable policy changes. The advocates celebrate this win as step one towards their more extensive campaign goals.
Monumental Child Care Bill
Before the pandemic, three out of five of Vermont’s youngest children did not have access to quality affordable child care. Vermont allies see the passage of H.171 as a monumental win that provides the financial support to expand high-quality child care opportunities for children and families. H. 171 will expand child care assistance eligibility and increase rates paid to programs by the state through a $5.5 million investment in the state’s Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP). Families with income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines will not have a co-pay for child care, and those with incomes up to 350 percent will be eligible for a state subsidy. The program will also shift to a per-family co-payment model, significantly reducing the amount paid by families with more than one child in care. Additionally, the bill supports child care providers and educators by providing $2.5 million towards scholarships and loan repayment. In addition, the legislature allocated $4.5 million to upgrade the information technology system used to administer CCFAP.
- Sets twin goals that no family will spend more than 10% of annual income on child care, and that early childhood educators will be compensated similarly to colleagues with similar credentials in other fields.
- Expands the state’s TEACH scholarship program and creates a new scholarship for prospective educators
- Creates a loan repayment program for new graduates who commit to working in Vermont child care programs
- Directs the Department for Children and Families to work with stakeholders to create a strategy towards investing the state’s $47 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds that includes diverse community voices
- Sets in motion two studies—a systems analysis and a financing study—to give the legislature and administration information needed to fund child care in the future. Let’s Grow Kids and the Child Care Campaign will use the information from these studies to push forward the transformation of Vermont’s child care system.
Advocates contributed to more than 3500 contacts to legislators in the 2021 legislative session. The bill’s passage would not have been possible with the advocacy efforts from Let’s Grow Kids, ample legislative support from across the political spectrum, on-the-ground organizing, and the important voices of child care providers.