As a neutral convenor, Building Bright Futures does not advocate for legislative action, nor for rule or policy changes in the administration. However, the Councils do support their members in being connected to their lawmakers and to the administration. The Councils also collect data and work to establish best practices across the system of early childhood.
Each winter, the Central Vermont Council traditionally meets with the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance to be updated on the Alliance’s legislative agenda, and to hear about how issues and changes may affect their work in the field, and the well-being of children and their families. In February, we were delighted to host Charlie Gliserman, the Alliance’s new public relations director for updates and discussion.
Council members were particularly interested in four areas – long term issues in the Region that are also part of the Council’s Action Plan. These are the continued modernization of the Child Care Financial Assistance program, now needing critical infrastructure updates so that it can best serve families, the addition of birth doulas as a Medicaid allowable expense, support for Children’s Integrated Services and the Parent Child Centers (we group these together, though they are also each a separate issue) and the development of a more integrated, efficient and easy to access Universal Pre-Kindergarten system.
Over the last several quarters, the Council has been excited to be working closely with the Winooski Valley Superintendents Association (WVSA) to reach out to Universal Pre-Kindergarten providers, offer support and collaboration, and help with streamlining and standardizing the ways in which parents and providers learn about preK. We learned from WVSA’s UPK Coordinator about how kids with partner programs fare in comparison to public school UPK provision, for example. We’re looking forward to increasing our work with this community of practice this year.
Finally, the Council spent some time with the data from How are Vermont’s Young Children and Families, Let’s Grow Kids Stalled From the Start report, and with some of the work of the Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Task Force of the Early Childhood Action Plan. Central Vermont’s focus on mental health for children and for parents has been one of our long-term projects as well.
The Council is looking forward to a successful spring with the Family Engagement work, and welcomes attendance at any meeting. Meetings are hosted by Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice on the second Friday of each month on Granger Road in Berlin, 9-11 am.