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How Vermont Became A National Leader on Childcare

This spring, lawmakers in Vermont approved a bill that will pump $125 million dollars into the state's childcare system annually. The highlight of the bill is an expansion of the state childcare subsidy system, which will now guarantee that families earning up to 175% of the federal poverty line ($52,000 for a family of four) will not have to pay a single dollar for childcare. Meanwhile, families making up to 575% of the federal poverty line ($172,000 for a family of four) will be eligible to receive partial funding from state subsidies, reducing their out-of-pocket childcare cost.

This legislation comes after more than a decade of state-wide organizing, which saw over 35,000 Vermonters take action by attending rallies, signing petitions and pledges, writing op-eds, and testifying before state lawmakers. The Vermont example shows that grassroots organizing can drive meaningful change in the child care sector. This article, from Vox writer Rachel Cohen, provides a blueprint of Vermont's journey to approving this historic legislation.

Take a look:

One state just became a national leader on child care. Here’s how they did it.

Action in Congress to support child care has been stalled for years. But in Vermont, lawmakers have just approved an ambitious plan that would pour tens of millions of new dollars into the state’s starved child care system.

The bill authorizing $125 million in annual investment comes after nearly a decade of organizing. As in many states, thousands of Vermont kids lack access to any child care program, and among families that have been able to land competitive slots, average costs exceed $26,000 a year, more than 30 percent of many families’ household income.…

The path to victory in Vermont offers a roadmap for activists in other states who want to see increased public investment into their child care systems, and insight into the policy trade-offs leaders had to make for their measure to get through the legislative process.

“Vermont showed that you can have a bold vision, cultivate a broad base of support, persevere through budget battles and pandemics, and make the state a better place for those who don’t have a voice in politics,” said Helene Stebbins, the executive director of the Alliance for Early Success, a national nonprofit that supports early childhood advocacy. “The hard part is not the policy — it’s the strategy, and the patience.”

Image via Vox


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