Building Vermont’s Future From the Child Up

View the Building Vermont’s Future from the Child Up Think Tank Report here



Vermont’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care reported that equitable early care and learning for all children ages birth to five is the most significant investment Vermont can make to provide the greatest positive impact for future generations. The Commission’s research revealed that Vermont needs to increase investments in the state’s early care and learning system and recommended that BBF engage diverse stakeholders in a design process to develop a comprehensive, high-quality, affordable system of early care and learning for all children birth to five. As of May 2017, we began a statewide design process looking at new opportunities in the way Vermont delivers, funds and governs early care and education.

Building Vermont’s Future From the Child Up is an opportunity for Building Bright Futures to meld action from the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations while focusing on Goal 3 from the Early Childhood Action Plan: “High-Quality Opportunities for All Children.”Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up has been addressing this goal by leading diverse stakeholders through an Appreciative Inquiry process to design and implement Vermont’s future early care and learning system. The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children supports Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up as a pathway to high-quality, affordable child care for all Vermonters by 2025.

The Process: Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to complex systems change that emphasizes working from strengths to find new directions for growth, rather than focusing on weaknesses or problems to be solved. Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up is being led by Building Bright Futures in collaboration with the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College. Using this framework, we have engaged statewide, cross-sector stakeholders in a collaborative design process of Vermont’s future early care and learning system. The process launched in May, 2017 and will conclude in time to deliver proposed legislation to the state legislature no later than January 2019, per the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendation.

As a result, Vermont will have a clear path to achieve an integrated system of early care and learning, all young children and their families will have access to high-quality, affordable opportunities that meet their needs, and the state will demonstrate that investing in children and families is the pathway to economic and community wellbeing.

Key Activities And Timeline

Throughout this process, stakeholders will engage in the following activities:

1. Stakeholder Outreach (June 2017 – August 2017) – Stakeholders across the state participated in community meetings, facilitating interviews, and surveys to collect feedback on successes and opportunities in the early care and learning system, which were then captured in an online database. Feedback was then analyzed to identify key themes to inform the Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up Summit. 

2. Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up Summit (October 3-4, 2017) – The Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up Summit convened 200+ participants in a two-day, intensive co-design session using an Appreciative Inquiry process. As a result of the Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up Summit, stakeholders agreed on a blueprint for Vermont’s future early care and learning system, and Implementation Teams have now been charged with carrying out the design.

3. Steering Committee (June 2017 – December 2017) – A group of key stakeholders will serve as the core planning team, meeting monthly to define the process, recruit and coordinate stakeholders, plan the Design Summit, coordinate Implementation Teams and track project progress.

4. Implementation Teams (Ongoing) – There are currently ongoing efforts to improve Vermont’s early care and learning system, including Building Bright Futures’ Implementation Teams and existing committees under the Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP). Community Outreach captured the successes and opportunities related to these efforts to inform the Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up Summit. As a result of the Summit, and in coordination with the ECAP, the Implementation Teams and initiatives are being reoriented to accelerate successes toward implementation of the new early care and learning system. 

Steering Committee Members:

Steering Committee Members

Kate Abbott – Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union
Steve Ames – Building Bright Futures
Paul Behrman – Champlain Valley Head Start
Laurel Bongiorno – Champlain College
Jessica Brumsted – Legislator
Julie Cadwallader-Staub – Early Learning Challenge Grant
Lisa Daigle –Farney – Northeast Kingdom Learning Services
Wendy Davis – Health Commissioner
Sharon Easterling – Consultant
Marsha Faryniarz – Greater Burlington YMCA
Jeff Francis – Vermont Superintendent’s Association
Eddie Gale – Henderson Foundation
Alan Guttmacher – Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children Board
Rebecca Holcombe – Agency of Education
Rachel Hunter – Home-based provider
Amy Johnson – Northwest Counseling Support Services
Designee of Mitzi Johnson – Legislator
Kim Keiser – Turrell Fund
Claire Kendall – Family Center of Washington County
Denise Leopoldino – Director of Culture,
Matt Levin – Early Childhood Alliance
Martha Maksym – Agency of Human Services
Emily Marshia – Orange County Parent Child Center
Becky Millard – Community College of Vermont
Reeva Murphy – Child Development Division
Miriam Novotny – Mosaic Learning Center
John Pandolfo – Superintendent, Barre
Tracy Patnoe – Mud City Kids
Betsy Rathbun-Gunn – United Counseling Services
Sonja Raymond – Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children
Dana Robson – Department Mental Health
Janice Stockman – Windham Southeast Supervisory Union
Susan Titterton – Consultant
Joanne Unruh – Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators
Lisa Ventriss – Vermont Business Roundtable
Theresa Wood – Vermont State Representative 
David Young – Superintendent, South Burlington
Paul Zengilowski – Heartworks

Quick Links

Think Tank Member Announcement

Summit Report

Summit Report Executive Summary

Building Vermont’s Future From The Child Up Overview 

Blue Ribbon Commission Final Report

VBSR/PF Economic Report

Stalled at the Start Report

The Permanent Fund

June 15th Steering Committee Photos

Summit Photos

Help us Build Vermont’s Future! Contact Building Bright Futures today to see how you can get involved in the process.