The BBF State Advisory Council met on March 25th, kicking off the meeting with a number of appointments and re-appointments to the Advisory Council and Executive Committee. Cheryle Wilcox was named the public Co-Chair of the SAC. Additionally, the SAC voted to nominate Morgan Crossman to be the next Executive Director of Building Bright Futures.
At the May meeting, the State Advisory Council will be voting on the FY20 budget for the organization. In preparation, the group reviewed the proposed budget.
The Child Development Division (CDD) of the Department for Children and Families is proposing changes to the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP). Reeva Murphy took the group on a tour of the changes, with an emphasis on critical strategies in the 5-year plan. Based on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Affordable Child Care and the Building Vermont’s Future from the Child Up Think Tank, the changes are designed to eliminate the benefits cliff for families, to better support families at low and middle income ranges, and to better invest in the child care workforce. To support these changes, CDD is recommending some investments in the CCFAP Program by the Legislature.
Next we heard from early childhood advocates from the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance and Let’s Grow Kids with an update on the various early childhood bills moving through the Legislature right now. It’s an exciting time of progress that is built on the scaffolding of years of work by all of the stakeholders in the early childhood sector.
Finally we moved into a discussion of one of the SAC’s priorities for 2019, children and family mental health. To frame this discussion, we talked about the numerous agencies and partners working on children’s mental health, and about Early MTSS as one statewide strategy that is being implemented. From there, several small groups formed to think about solutions-focused actions that can be taken at the statewide level to improve children’s mental health. While a range of ideas were presented, there was consensus that we all need to start with a baseline common language and understanding so that lines do not get crossed unnecessarily as we work together. There was also strong support for some of the resilience-based programs that are being implemented, such as Strengthening Families, Early MTSS, and some regional programs (such as the ‘OK, You Got This’ initiative in Addison). The inclusion of families and communities as vital partners in supporting children was also a common theme.
The SAC will reconvene on Monday, May 20th at noon.