Chittenden County Regional Council Recap – May 2018
Ensuring families can access education and support opportunities is a priority strategy in the Chittenden BBF Regional Action Plan. Council members are involved in several initiatives to increase access. I want to take this time to highlight some successes and some barriers to improving access in Chittenden County.
- Pediatricians are doing more screening with children and families to provide more supports and earlier intervention. Pediatricians are using Hunger Vital Signs and other questions included in the Bright Futures Guidelines to identify what additional support a family might need around housing stability, food access, or other social and environmental factors that ultimately influence a child’s health and well-being. Chittenden BBF hosted an event in March with the American Academy of Pediatrics and then followed up at our May Council meeting to build stronger connections between medical and community based providers.
- The three parent child centers in Chittenden County (Lund, Janet S Munt Family Room, and Milton Family Community Center) partnered with the BBF Council to convene 30 family serving professionals in March. Attendees included librarians, recreation directors, home visitors, childcare providers, and playgroup facilitators from across the county. The gathering was designed to build understanding of services available to families, cultivate collaboration across family serving professionals and reflect on the greatest challenges facing families to help inform regional planning. We hope this will be an annual event.
- The challenge to hire qualified workforce persists with mental health, early intervention, and childcare providers. Not having enough staffing impacts availability, quality, and intensity of services that are critical to fully support children and families. Limited workforce has impacted several regional projects including: an attempt to open a childcare at the Winooski community center; expand infant and toddler spots in Burlington, several childcare programs report reducing the number of families they serve by closing classrooms, and the ability to provide early childhood mental health and early intervention services. This issue persists across the state, and certainly seems pronounced in Chittenden County.