by Christina Goodwin
I am the Executive Director of Pine Forest Children’s Center, a non-profit early childhood education program in the South End of Burlington. Our school has infants through preschoolers with 75 children and 22 early childhood educators.
As a Director I am faced every day with meeting the needs of the children and families in our school community as well as the needs and wellbeing of our early childhood educators. There is often a thin margin around whether we can open our doors safely in order to provide high quality early childhood education that I believe every child in this state deserves. Now more than ever, we need to fulfill the vision that each and every child, beginning at birth, has the opportunity to benefit from high-quality early childhood education, delivered by an effective, diverse, well-prepared, and well-compensated workforce across all states and settings. The key to this vision are early childhood educators.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for compensation and benefits. As a non-profit my program has worked in collaboration with our Board of Directors to ensure ample wage increases and well rounded benefits for our ECEs. But there is so much more to do. We know that families can’t afford to pay more, and early childhood educators can’t afford to make less.
The reality is that the early childhood education system needs to increase wages and provide benefits. We deserve the kind of public funding support we invest in K-12 educators. It is time we address these inequities and bolster this workforce in crisis.
We need to take care of and scaffold the early childhood education workforce in Vermont now and for the future.
We need your help. In this year’s budget I ask that you fund emergency investments in additional retention bonuses, health insurance assistance, and expanded loan repayment for early childhood educators so WE can continue to support Vermont’s children, families, communities, and the economy.
Christina Goodwin is Executive Director of Pine Forest Children’s Center in Burlington, President Elect of VTAEYC, and a member of the Task Force for Advancing Early Childhood Education as a Profession in Vermont.
Christina delivered this testimony to Vermont legislators on February 8, 2022.