Burlington, Vermont—The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children is thrilled to announce the hiring of Janet McLaughlin as the new executive director of its Vermont Birth to Five initiative. McLaughlin will assume her role August 16.
McLaughlin is currently special projects director and head of the Food & Farm Initiative at the Vermont Community Foundation. In this role, she distributed over $1.6 million to Vermont nonprofits for collaborative projects aimed at building the capacity of the local food system to support farmers and connect Vermonters with healthy food they can afford. Prior to her work for the Community Foundation, McLaughlin served as the national director of Share Our Strength’s initiative Cooking Matters, a cooking-based nutrition education program for families at risk of hunger. In this role, she enhanced the program’s focus on serving caretakers of children aged birth to five, including the development of a Cooking Matters for Child Care Professionals program.
“We admire the work Janet has done to promote an equitable society, including her leadership for the Vermont Community Foundation,” Permanent Fund CEO Aly Richards said. “We are excited to see the positive impact she’ll have on our mission and we wholeheartedly welcome her to the Permanent Fund family.”
As executive director of Vermont Birth to Five, McLaughlin will lead the initiative’s continued implementation of critical child care quality improvement projects while addressing regional and statewide barriers to creating a system of high-quality child care. McLaughlin will continue to strengthen the symbiotic partnership with VB5’s sister organization, Let’s Grow Kids, in order to achieve the Permanent Fund’s mission of ensuring that every Vermont child has access to high-quality and affordable early care and education by 2025.
“I am eager to work on behalf of Vermont families like my own who need quality care for their kids now—and toward the thriving Vermont that results from all kids reaching their full potential,” McLaughlin said. “Child care providers are unsung heroes in our communities and I look forward to supporting them as part of the Vermont Birth to Five team.”
Vermont Birth to Five works to ensure that every Vermont child has access to high-quality, affordable child care. Research has demonstrated that when children experience strong early relationships in enriching, high-quality environments, they build a foundation for healthy development and successful learning. Through close collaboration with state agencies and community organizations, VB5 directly engages child care providers in projects designed to improve program quality. These include: one-on-one mentoring; training and professional development; assistance in partnering with public schools; strategies for increasing access to care; models for comprehensive family supports; and methods for sustainable business practices.
Founded in 2000, the Permanent Fund (permanentfund.org) is a philanthropic organization that partners with other early childhood organizations to promote access to high quality, affordable early care and learning in Vermont. The Permanent Fund is the parent organization of two early childhood programs—Let’s Grow Kids and Vermont Birth to Five—which are supported in collaboration with two other major philanthropic organizations: The A. D. Henderson Foundation and The Turrell Fund.
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The 0–5 Emergency and Innovation Fund provides child care programs with emergency relief assistance and/or funding for innovative new services, program enhancements or expansions. This fund is made possible by The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and the Turrell Fund. The Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation is administering the fund and is now accepting applications for grants.
Emergency Relief Grants
Emergency relief grants are designed to provide immediate assistance for unforeseen emergencies to eligible early care and education programs. Relief grants are intended to help grantees cover expenses for unexpected problems that impact their ability to meet their mission, or an unanticipated opportunity that will enhance its work.
New & Innovative Project Grants
Project grants are awarded to child care programs focused on children birth through five years old and their families. Programs for which funds are requested must be new or an expansion/enhancement of an existing program to be eligible. Project grants are available for planning or assessment to determine long-term viability of a new program offering (think pilot).
To learn more about the Emergency and Innovation Fund at the Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation, visit http://www.vtchildrenstrust.org/0-5-emergency-and-innovation-fund-vermont-childrens-trust-foundation
Recognizing the child care link to community health and well-being
In partnership with the University of Vermont Medical Center, the OneCare Vermont accountable care organization, and others, we’re developing a first-in-the-nation project that integrates child and family health services with early care and education in the community-based child care setting. Child care is an overlooked but ideal setting for primary prevention, which leverages trusted relationships between provider and parents to support a two-generation approach to serving children and families. It frees physicians from the demands of screening and educational activities, so they can focus on treatment; and it relocates those preventative services, including nutrition and fitness education, for delivery by qualified professionals in the child care setting. This innovation will generate new income for care providers while fostering a sustainable cycle of prevention.
“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” – John F. Kennedy
What was President Kennedy’s lofty belief 50 years ago is now a scientifically-based reality. Research has increasingly pointed to the importance of the first years of life in setting the trajectory for lifelong well-being. This research has various applications, from “brain science” to “developmental origins of health and disease,” but a common lesson for public policy: the first five years of life are the most important for affecting lifetime cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being. Our best hope for the future is to adopt practices and policies that recognize this reality.
Today’s American childhood includes a growing component that represents a key opportunity to improve the lives of our youngest children: child care.
The child care setting: An under-utilized lever for change
An estimated 11 million children under the age of five spend an average of 36 hours per week in some form of child care in the United States. In Vermont, a state with one of the highest rates of parental employment, more than 70% of children under the age of six spend some portion of their day in child care.
Despite the data, efforts to improve child health and development have only rarely recognized this reality of children’s lives and even more rarely taken advantage of it.
The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children has focused its efforts on building a high-quality and accessible early care and education system—the child care system—because this is where most of our children spend much of their time and we have the greatest opportunity for creating positive, lasting change.
Connecting child care professionals to the health care community through education and training programs provides a powerful, yet previously untapped, way to support the whole child and improve the health and well-being of our communities.
Trusting relationships provide foundation of support
Child care professionals are in a unique position to support families because they see our children and parents regularly, often five days a week. This regular contact builds a positive, trusting relationship—the foundation to the child care professional’s ability to successfully help and support families.
This relationship enables the child care professional to touch two generations (the child and parents) by providing positive, nurturing experiences for the child and serving as a supportive resource (and role model) for the parent.
Child care professionals as a resource for prevention
All families experience stress, but the causes and amounts vary, as well as a family’s ability to cope with such stress. Research has shown a powerful relationship between our emotional experiences as children and our physical and mental well-being as adults. Adverse childhood experiences are common, destructive and have an effect that often lasts for a lifetime. High-quality child care professionals trained in the evidence-based Strengthening Families framework can engage parents in building protective factors that promote optimal child development and prevent abuse and neglect.
Child care professionals as a natural part of the medical home model
As we work on health care reform and integrating services, there is an incredible opportunity to tap the child care community and use resources more effectively. The high-quality child care professional is in a unique position to act as a partner in this effort, serving on the frontline—as the eyes and ears—of the health care community. The Permanent Fund is working within the child care community to influence outcomes in many areas of community health:
- Early identification of developmental delays or mental health problems. Because of their regular, year-round contact with the children they serve, highly trained child care professionals can spot areas of developmental or health concern before the parent or health practitioner. The child care worker can refer parents to a medical professional early and assist with coordination of ongoing early intervention services.
- Resource for integrated and efficient service delivery. High-quality child care professionals know the resources and services available in the local community and can connect parents to the supports they may need (housing and food programs, crisis management services, mental health services, etc.)
- Providing support and knowledge of parenting and child development. High-quality child care professionals can provide support for parents through accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for young children’s behavior. Modeling effective adult-child interactions can be a powerful form of parent support and education.
- Improving nutrition. By providing healthy snacks and meals to the children in their care and sharing nutrition information with children and their families, child care professionals can help develop healthier food preferences in young children to counter the recent epidemic of childhood obesity and lay the cornerstone for lifelong healthy eating and exercising.
- Functioning as part of the community family care team, child care professionals can provide support services that complement or fill gaps for other professional services being provided to the family.
President Kennedy was right: Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future. As a society, we need to increase our investments of time and energies in the first years of life and make smart decisions about these investments. By recognizing and leveraging the important role that the child care professional can play in community health, we have a great opportunity to create lasting change for the well-being of our children, our families and our communities.
Child care is an economic development issue for our businesses.
We see it all of the time: our young, energetic employee has a child and their attention shifts. Young parents weigh paying tuition between $175-390 a week for child care (in St. Johnsbury, Montpelier and Burlington) with leaving the workforce to stay home with their child. This isn’t only a women’s issue. Increasingly, fathers are the stay-at-home parent if it doesn’t make economic sense to continue working when their entire paycheck goes to paying for child care. When parents are worried about the health and safety of their kids, they are distracted throughout the day. Productivity suffers when their employees’ child care is unstable or inconsistent. As a result many parents struggle with staying in their job if child care is unaffordable.
Employers who can offer quality child care to their employees are more likely to attract and retain a stellar workforce. John Simard, the Chief Financial Officer of software developer Vermont Information Processing (VIP) in Colchester says that he faces stiff competition for the best and the brightest in the tech field in Chittenden County and considers his on-site child care center as one of the key attraction and retention points for his employees.
The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children is encouraging the creation of regional business-supported child care efforts. The concept was born when we heard from business leaders who want to a gold standard employer. They understand the challenges that their employees face in finding and affording high-quality child care, particularly for infants and toddlers. They would like to offer a child care benefit to their employees but can’t carry the financial risk of an entire center on their own—or they simply don’t know where to start. There are several opportunities for a business to support its employees in this way:
- Human Resources Benefits
- Business consortium model or on-site child care
Businesses can dedicate financial resources to a fund for child care scholarships. This can be for your employees specifically, or for community children.
Human Resources Benefits.
There are benefits that you can offer your employees, including managing a flexible spending plan for dependent care, offering a stipend to offset your employees’ child care costs, and offering general information about how to find high quality care.
Business Consortium Model for Child Care.
Work with other like-minded businesses in your area to build a business supported child care consortium. The business consortium model is when five, 10, or 20 companies pool their resources. They can offer a benefit to their employees that will improve employee productivity, morale and retention: quality, affordable child care in a location that’s convenient to their place of work that addresses the gap between affordability for parents and affordability for providers. The first two pilots are starting in the South End of Burlington and in Montpelier in 2016 and 2017, respectively. To achieve a business-supported child care consortium, each employer commits to an annual amount that helps to balance the cost of offering high-quality care and guarantees their employees a lower-cost child care slot. The employee has the reassurance of knowing that their children will be in a high-quality setting at an affordable price and the employer has a motivated, focused and productive employee.
The Permanent Fund is committed to supporting businesses as they move forward with any of these three opportunities in order to create a thriving community and a prosperous economy in Vermont.
Founded in 2000, the Permanent Fund is a philanthropic organization that partners with other early childhood organizations to promote access to high quality, affordable early care and learning in Vermont. The Permanent Fund is the parent organization of two early childhood initiatives—Let’s Grow Kids and Vermont Birth to Five—which are supported in collaboration with two other major philanthropic organizations: The A. D. Henderson Foundation and The Turrell Fund.
The Burlington Early Learning Initiative is designed to improve kindergarten readiness, reduce special education costs and other public spending and help break the cycle of multi-generational poverty in Vermont’s Queen City. The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children has committed $122,000 for the initial planning stage of the pilot project that will move from concept to implementation in 2016.
Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Major Burlington Early Learning Initiative Pilot
At the launch news conference, Mayor Weinberger shared highlights of the program, which includes three components: home visiting for pregnant mothers and new parents; scholarships for high quality child care; and, rigorous evaluation. The Mayor discussed the challenges that children living in poverty face and referred to projects in other cities that have shown promise in breaking the cycle of poverty. There are many excellent organizations and early educators doing good work in Burlington and the pilot will help these groups collaborate more effectively under the leadership of the Mayor’s team. The pilot design is based on concepts proposed in a white paper written by educator and consultant Jessica Nordhaus and produced through a partnership involving the City, the United Way of Chittenden County, and philanthropic support. For more details:
Early Learning Initiative Pilot Launched with PF Support
Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Major Burlington Early Learning Initiative Pilot