The Vermont Early Childhood Fund (VECF) is a BBF initiative to support creative solutions that will improve the well-being of children (prenatal-age 8), families, as well as the Vermont communities in which they live.
Each year BBF Regional Early Childhood Councils, the early childhood experts within communities, identify two key issues impacting children and families in each of Vermont’s 12 regions. Recognizing the expertise of Regional Councils and in order to use the funds most effectively, the Vermont Early Childhood Fund uses these regional priorities to guide the investment. Eligible projects address at least one of the regional priorities identified by the BBF Regional Early Childhood Council and support the vision stated in Vermont’s Early Childhood Action Plan (VECAP).
The projects funded in this second year of VECF address critical areas of need, including early childhood workforce development, support for parents and families, and access to health care, including mental health care, for young children. From immigrants in Brattleboro to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ parents in Burlington, these projects will make a difference in the day-to-day lives of Vermonters.
Building Bright Futures is grateful to the Sunflower Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation for making this fund possible for 2023. Please subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about future funding opportunities (and more!)
BBF has funded seven VECF grantees for 2023 (a total of $105,000):
Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for industrial and commercial growth throughout Southeastern Vermont. BDCC will use grant funds to develop a culturally-tailored career pathway for immigrants living in Southeastern Vermont to enter the early childhood education (ECE) field. This pathway will draw on the expertise of English Language Learning experts, ECE partners, adult educators, and the area’s refugee resettlement organization. The goal is to support at least four New Americans to engage in ECE training (certificate or degree programs) before the end of 2023.
Chittenden County, VT
Dad Guild is a nonprofit whose mission is to support and empower fathers by offering opportunities for connection, education, and community engagement. Using VECF grant funds, Dad Guild will increase its engagement with Black and LGBTQ+ masculine-identifying/nonbinary caregivers by:
Family Center of Washington County
The Family Center of Washington County’s Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) Early Intervention Program will use VECF funds to purchase vision and hearing screening equipment, as well as to train staff to conduct vision and hearing screenings for children referred to CIS in Washington County and Orange North. The screenings will be given to children from ages 0 to 3 and will occur in the child’s natural environment where they feel most comfortable. Then the children will be re-checked at their annual evaluation or sooner if necessary. Further assessment by ophthalmology and/or audiology providers will be provided as needed, based on the child’s developmental delay/diagnosis.
Lamoille Family Center
Lamoille Family Center’s Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) Early Intervention Program will use VECF funds to purchase equipment and training for vision and hearing screenings, making it possible for all children ages 6 months to 8 years in Lamoille Valley to be screened for vision and hearing loss. In addition to the families served by Lamoille Family Center, the CIS program will make the equipment available to 50 local child care providers and three supervisory unions.
Springfield Area, VT
Little Patakha is a children’s brand that offers books, games, puzzles and other engaging media to promote inclusion and shatter stereotypes through diverse representation. The company is partnering with the Springfield Area Regional Council to host five online workshops for early educators about the importance of representation in children’s media and how this relates to children’s developmental stages. In addition, the grant project will make 800 Little Patakha items available for free to Upper Valley preschools, child cares, libraries, and home-based child care centers. The four products that will be distributed all help boost representation in children’s media:
Mount Snow Child Care
Mount Snow Child Care is a community-based early education program that serves a diverse population of children and families in the greater Deerfield Valley area, ages 6 weeks through 6 years old. With VECF funding, the center will offer a series of professional development to its staff, and other early childhood educators working in the Deerfield Valley area, on topics that relate to issues that impact mental health and well-being. Some of the topics that have been requested include American Sign Language (ASL) training to help support diverse learners, identification and support of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), anti-bias training, and trauma-informed care. Mount Snow Child Care will also host two free events for families to learn about helpful supports and services available for them in the region, as well as to learn specific parenting skills.
Northeast Kingdom Community Action
Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA) is a nonprofit addressing poverty through education, community collaborations, and community action. The nonprofit is responsible for coordination and fiscal management for Northeast Kingdom Children Integrated Services (NEK CIS), which provides Early Intervention, Strong Families Vermont Home Visiting, early childhood and family mental health, and specialized child care services that are family-centered and prevention-focused. NEK CIS will use the VECF grant funds to provide three free trainings and consultations to early childhood educators to grow the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to serve and support young children and families who have experienced trauma and toxic stress. This will be in partnership with Northeastern Family Institute, VT (NFI VT), a leader in statewide training and consultation.
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