In July, Early Childhood leaders gathered for the State Advisory Council meeting which also served as an Early Childhood Policy Development Session. Sixty people attended representing diverse voices from Regional Councils, ECAP Committees and the SAC. Together, the group begin to formulate recommendations for consideration by the SAC. Typically this time of year we gather for an event at the Statehouse focussed on Vermont’s Early Childhood Action Plan; in part due to COVID we made changes to this year’s process and hope the process is improved to engage ECAP and SAC leaders together earlier in the process to draft policy recommendations.
After some brief SAC business, Morgan Crossman, BBF Executive Director, presented key foundational principles that guide Vermont’s early childhood system. Included in those, Vermont has adopted the Guiding Principles to guide our collective work to create a more inclusive and equitable system.
BBF is committed to using the most up-to-date, high quality data to inform policy. To do this, we started the Policy Development Session with a presentation of highlights from the Vermont’s Early Childhood Needs Assessment. BBF and partners were tasked to conduct a needs assessment under the Preschool Development Grant in addition to conducting a periodic needs assessment per our responsibilities under Vermont’s Act 104. The Needs Assessment survey had input from 160 stakeholders from all sectors participate in focus groups or an online survey. BBF will present the full findings of the needs assessment at the August SAC meeting. Building on the Needs Assessment data, Crossman also reminded the group about the regional priorities map that identifies key areas of concern for each of BBF’s 12 regions.
With that, people broke off into small groups (made possible by Zoom rooms) to discuss the following topics and begin the work of considering recommendations:
- COVID impacts on family economic stability and mental health
- Chronic inequities and racism as a public health crisis
- Childcare capacity and workforce development
- Family voice to rebuild a stronger system
- Evolve our data system to address gaps
The group returned to the large group to hear highlights from the discussion. There was support for recommendations to go to the Families and Communities committee to get parent/family review before coming to the SAC. The work done in these small groups, lead by an ECAP leader, will now be brought back to ECAP committees for final development and brought back to the SAC in September.
You can now register for the August 24 Webinar: Vermont Needs Assessment and Strategic Vision at this link.