The November State Advisory Council met on Monday, November 16 to review and endorse the content for the 2020 How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families? report. The meeting opened with a moment of silence to honor Mariah McGill, former Building Bright Futures staff member, whose life was taken in a tragic accident just one month earlier.
Members of the SAC participated in a reflection on how they will use recently endorsed BBF reports and documents to create meaningful change in their sector or system. Here are a sample of SAC member responses:
Early Childhood Systems Needs Assessment
“As a member of the House Human Services committee, I can use the Needs Assessment and VECAP to bring my committee up to date in the area of early childhood and childcare…I am also on the Government Accountability Committee. We are talking about drilling down to use inquiry and data to build responsible policy. The work BBF does is so integral to make the case to keep funding strong for childcare and early care and education programs.” -Jessica Brumsted, State Representative
“The Needs Assessment and Action Plan emphasis on equity are in line with the Turrell Fund and can be helpful to guide financial investment in Vermont. It adds strength and concreteness as I review funding requests.” -Kim Keiser, Turrell Fund
“I can’t say enough about how I will be using these documents. I’m looking forward to using the data and echoing it at the tables I sit at.” -Auburn Waterson, Agency of Human Services
Revised Vermont Early Childhood Action Plan (VECAP)
”I can build pieces of the revised VECAP into the Head Start Collaboration Office’s strategic plan so we can have more people pulling in the same direction.” -Renee Kelly, Child Development Division
”The VECAP brings a cohesiveness to the state. The new objectives and goals are going to be functional and practical. We can use those as a foundation across sectors, across agencies and can use them to be thoughtful in our thinking about activities. For me, specifically on Universal Pre-K, and building high quality inclusive programs, EMTSS and early childhood special education services. The VECAP is a foundational document.” -Kate Rogers, Agency of Education
2020 SAC Policy Recommendations
“The policy recommendations and VECAP help inform Let’s Grow Kids on what to focus on with policy asks for child care. These documents are the central output of all of this. The data underlies any policy move.” -Aly Richards, Let’s Grow Kids
”Policy development on childcare and early childhood services and care is evolving. We find one thing that makes it more dynamic is having input, like that generated by BBF, some goes into policy documents and informs our ongoing planning conversations.” -Steven Berbeco, Child Development Division
“It’s great to have things in one place. The chronic inequities policy recommendation really resonates with me as working to diversify the educator workforce is a priority for me. There are other groups that will benefit from this as well.” -Flor Diaz-Smith
The meeting continued with an update on BBF. Dr. Morgan Crossman, Executive Director, presented current challenges and opportunities the organization is pursuing, in particular to increase BBF’s state allocation. She noted that as seen in the EC Needs Assessment, the entire EC system continues to be underfunded statewide. BBF is no exception with decreased revenues which impact the organization’s ability to execute key responsibilities under Vermont statute. This decrease in funding is not for lack of outreach and application. BBF is seeking to diversify funding mechanisms, in particular seek new private philanthropic, corporate partners and increase the base allocation from the state. The VECAP Early Childhood Investment Committee will reconvene to explore sustainable funding options. SAC Membership provided guidance on this process.
2020 How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families Report
The eighth iteration of the How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families report is another mechanism by which BBF monitors progress toward Vermont’s vision and reports to policy-makers. The report includes the most up to date, high quality data available, much of which is only published in this report or available on BBF’s data platform. Morgan presented key chapter content to the SAC for endorsement; the final report will be published and presented in early January.
The 2020 report starts by highlighting the results of the Early Childhood Needs Assessment and the updated VECAP, followed by SAC recommendations. This year’s Early Childhood Spotlight is on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The body of the report captures data across a range of sectors. The 2020 report features new data on a range of services, resources and supports Vermont offers to improve optimal developmental and educational outcomes for children. This highlight includes enrollment in early intervention, early childhood special education services, Children’s Integrated Services, Head Start and Early Head Start, as well as support from Parent Child Centers and Help Me Grow, providing a snapshot of how Vermont serves the most vulnerable young children and their families. At the conclusion of the presentation, the SAC voted to endorse the 2020 report and will gather for a virtual press event in early January presenting the How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families report. The SAC adjourned with the following comments shared in the chat:
“I will promise to be a fierce advocate to make sure you all have the resources to continue this very important work and we can all continue to improve child outcomes for all. Thank you!”
“Thank you each and all for your labor to make this data access more efficient and clear! It’s impossible for us to keep doing the crucial work we are doing, try to measure the effects of our best efforts, and put that information together in some usable way, so that we can advocate for the necessity of the labor we do… applause from this corner”