Southeast Vermont Regional Council Recap – July 2017

Chad Simmons
Southeast Vermont Regional Coordinator
Building Bright Futures




Our regional council spent June and July addressing upcoming initiatives and opportunities to improve access to supports and resources for families, reviewing the enormous amount of work we’ve done over the past two years and visioning what our regional and state early childhood system will look like.

In June, we did a deep dive into Help Me Grow and how we can best integrate the statewide initiative within and complementary to existing, successful regional systems including our Children’s Integrated Services, Maternal Child Health and Parent Child Center efforts. We came away with a better understanding of what is offered through Help Me Grow, the various ways to connect service providers and families and next steps for system integration.

In July, we held a special council meeting to review the regional action plan strategies, accomplishments and data in order to celebrate our successes, analyze our work and raise questions for future efforts. We identified a list of draft priorities for the council to pursue in FY 18. Finally, we ended the meeting with an inspiring visioning of our early childhood system using an Appreciative Inquiry framework. Council members shared their past positive, innovative experiences and vision for our children, families and the agencies that serve them.

Key Events

Some key events and success from the past few months:

Improved Early Care & Learning and K-3rd Grade Connections

Connected to the region’s Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) and following up from the council’s April Getting Preschool Right forum (much of the agenda inspired by Addison County’s K-readiness event!), we are using a prenatal to age 8 lens to inform pre-K program development, improving collaborations between early educators and pre-K-grade 3 programs. We are also taking the show on the road and engaging school boards this fall. All Windham County legislators are being kept up to date on these efforts.

Child Care & Recovery Program

Based on feedback from a new parent in recovery, the current Medicated Assisted Therapy program at the Brattleboro Retreat, will start a child care program, available 7 days a week for clients. This will allow parents/caregivers with children to stay in the outpatient program and improve chances to be successful in their recovery. Our hope is that it will serve as a model for all treatment programs to include childcare, if needed. BBF played a role in convening these initial conversations along with partners including CIS, R&R agency, DoH, It Takes a Village, MCH. The program plans to open in July. Read more about the program and why it is so important Here.

Connecting Child & Family Success with Economic Success

Ongoing work based on Making It Work In Windham. As a broad goal, align child and family outcomes with regional economic outcomes. Including access and affordability to high-quality early care and learning into regional plans and economic development plans. Include increased wages, improved family-centered workplace policies, improved workforce development opportunities, and (recently), increased number of B-Corps into our regional early childhood action plan. Bottom line, ensure our regional economy works for all families. Early childhood (BBF explicitly) is now an active member at various tables including: United@Work (coordinated by our United Way), Windham WorkNet (formally Windham Workforce Investment Board (WIB)), regional Chambers, and Brattleboro Area Human Resources Network.

Critical Issues

Ongoing critical issues include:

  • Availability of good paying jobs that allows for families to live and work in Windham County
  • Housing affordability and availability
  • The continued strain on our family serving systems due to the number of children in DCF custody
  • The complexity and pervasiveness of substance abuse, particularly opioids and deadly strains of Fentanyl
  • The high cost, limited availability and limited accessibility (i.e. number of days available, location, transportation) of high-quality early care and learning
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