January’s State Advisory Council Meeting was held at the State House and covered some critical topics including the How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families report, performance measures for the organization, and some changes to the annual cycle of how we do our work. We also discussed sustainability plans for the future of BBF and focused on Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) as an impactful yet underfunded organization in Vermont.
The group took some time at the start of the meeting to dive into How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families and discuss data or other content that was impactful for them. We also noted that all of the data indicators from the report are available and searchable on Vermont Insights, making it more usable for stakeholders and others.
From there we moved into Council Business, where the group voted to advance two potential new members to the Governor’s office for appointment. Additionally, the group was informed that while Vermont was granted funds from the Preschool Development Grant for planning, our state was not a grantee for the implementation phase. This will impact several organizations including BBF. However, the planning grant will help the early childhood system identify key priorities for the coming years, and BBF is working to diversify funding streams to continue to work with partners and stakeholders on those priorities.
The group then reviewed proposed performance measures for BBF’s work as part of our Results-Based Accountability framework.
We were then joined by a panel of stakeholders to discuss Children’s Integrated Services. Regional Councils celebrate the creative program delivery of Children’s Integrated Services, providing a set of supports to children and families. However Councils continue to express concerns about level-funding of the program in the face of increased acuity of needs from children and families. CIS is a creative bundling of services and funding to be able to provide developmental and mental health supports to children and families across the state. Each region has a host agency and we heard from two CIS Coordinators and a BBF Regional Coordinator about the cost of care vs. reimbursement rates, and how things like travel time can impact the cost of providing services. After hearing from the panel, the Council discussed ways to elevate the needs of CIS to improve the program’s ability to serve Vermont families.
The meeting closed with a review of how we set annual priorities and our annual work cycle, with an eye toward change. The SAC agreed that setting priorities every two years will give the Council a better opportunity to delve into the weighty topics that they typically prioritize. Additionally, to be in a better position to inform the Governor’s budget, the group discussed moving the printing of How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families back to the September timeframe, and the Early Childhood Action Plan Summit back to May.
The next meeting of the SAC will be on February 24 in Williston.