by Christina Goodwin
This is the speech made by VTAEYC Board President Christina Goodwin before early childhood educators, children, families, advocates, and lawmakers on June 21, 2023, to celebrate the enaction of the 2023 Child Care Bill.
Friends and colleagues, Vermont just made history! We are leading the nation with our investment in early childhood education.
Until today, early childhood education programs have been reducing hours and limiting spaces. Trying to stay open for one more year, month, or week. This is the relief that early childhood educators, families, and businesses have been waiting for.
I am the Executive Director of Pine Forest Children’s Center in Burlington. I can tell you right away what this new law will do for us:
It means programs like ours can offer more spots to more families. It means financial relief for families who attend our school. It also means stability, as we can pay teachers closer to a living wage and retain our talented early childhood educators.
I am also the president of the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children. This law lays the foundation for early childhood education becoming a well-prepared, well-compensated profession. It invests in grants, scholarships, and student loan relief so that more early childhood educators can afford their own education.
The funding system moves us, for the first time ever, toward a statewide, professional compensation scale. Which means more prospective early childhood educators can now afford to choose this as a career path.
Finally, I’m a parent who lives and works in Vermont. For families, this law means they can find and afford the early childhood education program that’s right for them. It means more families can actually decide to have children – because they’ll be able to access and afford early childhood education.
Access and affordability means more parents can choose to return to the workforce. Especially women. And that means Vermont businesses are better positioned to recruit and retain talented workers.
I’m proud to live in a state that supports children, families, and early childhood educators, and gets prosperity as a result!
Thank you legislators, advocates, and believers in the promise of early childhood education!
Christina Goodwin is Board President of VTAEYC, Executive Director of Pine Forest Children’s Center in Burlington, and a member of the Task Force for Advancing Early Childhood Education as a Profession.