The Building Bright Futures State Advisory Council met on Monday, May 21st, 2018 in Williston. The objectives of the meeting were:

  • Address council business including welcoming new members, approving BBF FY19 budget, and getting an update on work related to the State Advisory Council’s 2018 priorities.
  • Provide feedback on the work of the Building Vermont’s Future Think Tank
  • Consider how to endorse and promote Vermont’s new Guiding Principles for the Full Participation of Each and Every Young Child and Their Families

Council Business

The council welcomed two new members: Sara Barry, Director of Clinical and Quality Improvement at OneCare Vermont and Sue Ceglowski, Director of Legal and Policy Services at the Vermont School Boards Association and Vice-Chair of the board for the newly formed Mettawee School District in southwest Vermont.

The State Advisory Council approved Building Bright Future’s budget for Fiscal Year 2019 with deep appreciation for Executive Director Sarah Squirrell and the BBF staff for producing a balanced budget and planning for the sustainability of the organization.

The council heard updates on committee work related to its 2018 priority topics:

  • Addressing trauma/adverse childhood experiences through a focus on protective factors and social emotional wellness: The Early Childhood Interagency Coordinating Team, comprised of leadership from the Agency of Education, the Departments of Health, Mental Health, Children and Families, and Building Bright Futures, is focusing on Early Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (Early MTSS) as potential model to think about scaling up as a more comprehensive approach to social and emotional development in Vermont. Conversations are in the early stages. At the same time, the committee recognizes the great work happening throughout the state around trauma informed care, ACEs etc. The committee has suggested that BBF take the lead in crosswalking various frameworks across sectors to create some common language and common understanding in this arena.
  • Building capacity for early care and learning: The BBF Early Learning and Development committee has identified six strategies for building child care capacity in Vermont. One key component of this is the Make Way for Kids grants being implemented by Vermont Birth to Five. Another key strategy is a child care demand study. The goal of the demand study is to better understand the family needs and desires when it comes to child care. Funding sources and a research partner have been identified and a scope of work for the study is underway. The proposed timeline is to start in late August and September when parents are more settled in their child care situation and to have the study finished around Thanksgiving.

Think Tank Update

The State Advisory Council heard an update on the April 30th meeting of the Building Vermont’s Future Think Thank, which includes several council members, as well as additional representatives from different sectors related to early care and learning. The Think Tank will respond to the charge of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality Affordable Child Care, build off the ideas of the Building Vermont’s Future from the Child Up Summit report, and develop a comprehensive, actionable blueprint for Vermont’s future Early care and learning system to be delivered to the legislature no later than January 2019.

The Think Tank is working in small groups on three components of the future early care and learning systems where more concrete design recommendations are needed:

  1. Developing and implementing financing mechanisms
  2. Maximizing resources within the early care and learning delivery system
  3. Assuring all children have access to high quality early care and learning programs

The council heard emerging ideas out of each small group about potential areas of focus that would have the most impact in moving from the current state to the desired state for VT’s early care and learning system.

In discussion, council members mentioned the importance of coming to agreement on several fundamental questions related to our future system, including:

  • Will this be a public good provided by a public system vs a public good provided by vouchers?
  • What is the role of family choice?
  • How do we define quality and examine our biases about what is and isn’t quality across settings in the current system?
  • What can we learn from other states and countries?
  • How do we balance aspiration and realism in our approach to this work?

The State Advisory Council asked for more guidance on their relationship with the Think Tank and what is expected in terms of input and approval of Think Tank work. BBF will work to clarify this process going forward.

Guiding Principles for Full Participation

Building Bright Futures invited Camille Catlett of the Franklin Porter Graham Child Development Institute to introduce Vermont’s new Guiding Principles for the Full Participation of Each and Every Young Child and Family. Camille has been working with members of Vermont’s early childhood community over the last several years to develop these principles that describe what individuals, organizations, and communities understand and do to realize the promise of each and every young Vermont child. They highlight explicit, intentional, and strengths-based practices that are respectful of and responsive to child, family, and community identifies, values, and beliefs.

Council members discussed how they have already used the principles to inform work in their agencies and organizations, including the grant-making and contracting processes. Members looked forward to bringing the principles back to their organizations and other tables at which they sit to discuss how we can put them into action. The council agreed to spend time between the May and July meetings more deeply engaging with the Guiding Principles and document and to hold a vote on whether to endorse them formally as a council at the July meeting.

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