News from the Network is an email series from Building Bright Futures that spotlights the work of Regional Councils, updates related to early childhood data, emerging priorities from VECAP Committees, and more. This update gives a closer look at BBF’s work across the state of Vermont to improve the well-being of young children and families.
The results of BBF’s Stakeholder Survey are in!
Your input matters to making the Building Bright Futures Network stronger. This spring, BBF’s data team administered a stakeholder survey across the Network to gather feedback from our Regional Councils, State Advisory Council, Vermont’s Early Childhood Action Plan (VECAP) Committees, and BBF as an organization.
The stakeholder survey is one of the tools we use to measure our impact and improve our work on behalf of Vermont’s children and families. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the form! Here is a summary of the feedback we received this year.
What is our impact?
Top five BBF publications used by stakeholders:
- Emails, blogs, social media
- BBF website
- The State of Vermont’s Children
- Vermont Early Childhood Family Needs Assessment
- Policy Recommendations
BBF uses the survey results to inform us on how to meet our five key mandates: Empowering, Convening, Monitoring, Responding, and Advising.
Building Bright Futures is data-driven. Accessible and accurate data is our strength and empowers our partners to do their work to improve the well-being of Vermont’s children in the prenatal period through age 8.
BBF’s most impactful achievement this last year (mentioned by 55% of respondents) was providing data and advisement to the Vermont Legislature for Act 76, the historic child care law that was passed on June 20, 2023. In addition, 40% of survey respondents stated that using data and evidence to inform and monitor Vermont’s early childhood system was one of BBF’s most impactful achievements.
“I use the State of Vermont’s Children and some indicators on Vermont’s Early Childhood Data and Policy Center as my go-to for early childhood data to use for grants and presentations. It is so helpful to have it all in one place!” —Survey Participant
Opportunities to strengthen our work
Respondents gave detailed and thoughtful responses when we asked about opportunities to strengthen the BBF Network. Some requested more consistent and accessible communication. Others suggested an increase in integration across the BBF Network.
BBF aspires to be a leader in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. We are working on our internal and external practices and approaches (including through the hiring of a VECAP Equity Consultant this fall), and the survey responses will support and inform these efforts.
To start, survey respondents recommended diversifying stakeholders at BBF Network tables to ensure the inclusion of direct service professionals, employers, early childhood educators, economically marginalized populations, families, people of color, immigrant communities, people of diverse religious identities, and families with children attending public schools, as well as ensuring regional and rural representation at statewide meetings. Respondents offered strategies for increasing representation from traditionally marginalized communities, including compensating representatives, convening focus groups and advisory bodies, and using increased or innovative outreach strategies.
“[I would like to see] more diverse family engagement and clearer ways for partner orgs and state agencies to tap into the expertise of families/caregivers through BBF, either Families and Communities Committee or other avenues.” —Survey Participant
Who is in the BBF Network?
The 2023 stakeholder survey saw a 70% increase in participation from the year before, with 157 respondents from the Building Bright Futures State Advisory Council Network.
Responses came from all twelve regions of the state, with the most (23%) from Chittenden County, followed by Central Vermont (12%). Respondents primarily identified as white (84%) and female (78%). Thirty-eight percent of respondents chose Early Childhood Education as the primary hat they wear in the BBF Network. Twenty-four percent of respondents are currently parents or guardians of children under 9.
Participants also had the opportunity to share identities, life experiences, and personal characteristics. Three top themes emerged: a personal or professional connection to mental health (36%), living with or parenting a child with disabilities or specialized needs (27%), and identifying as LGBTQIA+ (14%).
“The strength of the BBF Network is the multiple ways that it interacts with the early childhood system. In the past year, BBF has been a critical partner in the legislative process, has directly elevated concerns and priorities from impacted families and professionals to agencies and legislators, has supported Vermont in receiving Preschool Development Grant [funds], and has continued to convene critical partners in VECAP committees and Regional Councils to collaborate and align efforts to improve the early childhood system.” —Survey Participant
The early childhood system is vast, complex, and sometimes daunting for children and families trying to navigate it. BBF’s role is to elevate the people and organizations who are impacted and who are making an impact.
Thank you again to everyone who took the time to provide us with feedback. We will use this data to inform our strategic plan, reporting, and advisement throughout the year!