Building Bright Futures’ Families and Communities Committee has released the results of the 2022 Vermont Early Childhood Family Needs Assessment, providing valuable insights into Vermont’s early childhood system.
The survey asked about services and supports for families with children from the prenatal period to age 8, with a focus on better understanding the barriers families face in Vermont’s early childhood system. The Vermont Early Childhood Family Needs Assessment provides a close look at what Vermont is doing well for young families and where the state can do better.
Our teams have put together a report as well as an executive summary, a plain-language summary designed to be accessible to those outside the early childhood data field, and appendices with details about the survey.
More than 600 people across all regions of Vermont took the Early Childhood Family Needs Assessment from mid-August to mid-October 2022. The survey asked about families’ experiences with accessing a variety of services, including child care, early intervention services, healthy food, pediatric care, and transitions between settings and services. Participants were asked to rate their overall experiences with seven different services and supports in Vermont’s early childhood system, then provide more in-depth feedback on up to three services.
Overall, respondents reported having positive experiences with the services and supports they were asked about. For example, 71% of respondents agreed that their experiences with child care and early learning settings were overall positive, while 93% agreed their experiences were positive in medical care settings.
Survey participants suggested that several factors made their experiences either easier or more challenging. Helpful factors included relationships with staff and providers, communication, timeliness of services, and nearby location of services. Frequently mentioned barriers included difficulty accessing a service or support due to availability or cost, and difficulty navigating the complex early childhood system.
The Families and Communities Committee is one of the seven committees responsible for carrying out the Vermont Early Childhood Action Plan (VECAP), the strategic plan for achieving priorities for young children and families across the state. The report highlights four considerations for policy, which can be read in full here:
- Evaluate and align Vermont’s strategies to inform and connect families to resources.
- Review national best practices to reduce administrative burden and promote equity of access to necessities (diapers, food, formula, etc.).
- Support the implementation of clear guidance on the full scope of kindergarten transitions.
- Pursue integration of mental health services throughout Vermont’s early childhood system to encourage ease of access for families with young children.
This survey was supported by the Building Bright Futures State Advisory Council Network and the Vermont Integration Prenatal to 3 (VIP-3) grant. It’s important to note that the survey only represents the experiences of a portion of Vermont families, and there may be limitations such as self-selection bias.