At the May meeting, after passing the FY20 budget for Building Bright Futures, the SAC delved into both of its priority areas for 2019, early childhood and family mental health (ECFMH) and supporting the early childhood workforce.
In past meetings, the SAC heard from designated agencies and participated in small group discussions, leading to the suggestion to create a ECFMH working group or task force to move forward. In the May meeting, the SAC was joined by a parent from Southeast Vermont via videoconference to hear the perspective of a mom trying to navigate the systems and supports available to her and her child. She gave the group a compelling first-hand account of challenges with child care, employment, finances and other difficulties that all stem from having a child with complex needs. The conversation served to remind the partners at the table that sometimes systems don’t work as intended, and that the people who need those systems don’t always know what options exist, or how to access them.
That compelling first-hand account led into a proposal to create an Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Task Force. The Task Force would aim to bring together people across disciplines on a state level to identify and affirm vision statements that speak to an integrated system of care. The Task Force would identify existing forums that are doing similar alignment work related to ECFMH in order to identify intersections and opportunities with these groups. They would also review positive mental health frameworks in use across Vermont and identify policy recommendations to reach this shared vision.
As part of the SAC’s priority of supporting the early childhood workforce, Janet McLaughlin, Co-Chair of Early Learning & Development Committee gave a presentation about a new campaign to recruit entrepreneurial child care providers to start their own businesses and how the campaign ties to priority #3 from the Early Childhood Action Plan (All children and families have access to high quality opportunities that meet their needs). The ELD Committee’s key priority for 2018/2019 has been to increase the number of childcare providers and the number of children and families that can be served across the state. In order to do this, strategies include:
- Address barriers
- Create a marketing campaign to recruit entrepreneurs into the early childhood field
- Create a marketing campaign to recruit more people into the workforce
- Increase compensation and benefits
- Conduct a demand study to inform what Vermont families need and want for childcare
- Expand supports for business start-up and expansion
There is an implementation team in place to help complete this work.
Before closing the meeting, the SAC heard an update on the work that is underway to revise the Early Childhood Action Plan. ECAP committees are updating the document to reflect current priorities and strategies that can be used to best support Vermont children and families.
Early Childhood stakeholders will gather at the July 23rd ECAP Summit to review accomplishments, policy requests and set priorities for the coming year.