High-quality childcare shouldn’t be reserved for privileged few

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I believe that no matter their socio-economic background, all children deserve the same access to high-quality childcare.

Since coming to Vermont for college I’ve been fortunate enough to become a mentor through the DREAM program, which pairs college students with children in affordable housing neighborhoods. After spending time with my mentee and other children in the program, I’ve learned many of them care for younger brothers and sisters because their parents have to work full-time to make ends meet and child care is simply too expensive.

I was stunned to learn that Vermont families are spending up to 40 percent of their household income on childcare, which is more than the average family spends on food, housing or transportation. High-quality, affordable childcare for infants and toddlers is particularly difficult to find. It’s during the first few years of life that a child’s brain is developing most rapidly, forming over 1 million new connections every single second! This is the best opportunity we have to close the achievement gap and to prepare young children for success in school and life.

From my experience as a DREAM mentor, I know that summertime is particularly difficult for children in affordable housing neighborhoods, as many of them experience “developmental slide” because they are not engaged in childcare programs like their more advantaged peers.

When children are allowed to be children and given the resources they need, their success knows no limit. I envision a future when high-quality childcare is accessible to all children and families so every child has the opportunity to grow to his or her fullest potential.

If you agree that high-quality affordable childcare should be the norm, please talk to your legislators and make sure they know that this is an issue you care about. You can also sign the petition at www.letsgrowkids.org to express your support for prioritizing children. While you’re on the website, use the legislator look-up tool to find and contact your legislator today.