Early Childhood Day at the Legislature

Highlights from 2022 Early Childhood Day at the Legislature

ECDL ’22 was a great success! Over 150 early childhood advocates attended Early Childhood Day at the Legislature (ECDL) virtually on March 9, 2022. People from all over the state logged in to ask the 52 participating legislators to support Vermont’s young children and families.  

Continue reading for photos and a recap of the day and remember to save the date for the 28th Annual ECDL on Wednesday, March 15, 2023!

ECDL is an annual day of advocacy, education, and networking organized by the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance, Let’s Grow Kids, and Building Bright Futures. The event brings together early childhood professionals and providers, parents, employers, business owners, and policymakers to focus on early childhood issues.  

“We appreciate the effort legislators are making to stay connected as we move through different phases of the pandemic,” said Matt Levin, Executive Director of the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance. “The early childhood community is still in crisis, and the voices of children and young families are being heard in the State House. We may still be speaking through Zoom, but we got the message across that the ongoing housing, nutrition, mental health, and educational needs are very concrete and very real.”

“Today is a reminder of how complex the early childhood system is and how it takes all of us to come together to make change. Thank you for sharing your voice and perspective to support children and families in our state. While there are still challenges in our early childhood system, we have so much to celebrate,” said Dr. Morgan Crossman, Executive Director of Building Bright Futures.

This year’s event marked the 28th edition of this annual day of advocacy. Live speakers in the morning included Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, Senate President Pro Tempore Rebecca Balint, and Pollaidh Major, Outreach Representative of the Office of U.S. Sen. Leahy.

Lt. Gov. Gray expressed strong support for the Day and advocates. “We need to support you with paid family and medical leave, we need to support you with better pay, with a lifeline, an immediate lifeline now, not just the initial $29 million from ARPA funds or the $9 million from the Budget Adjustment last week, but continued funding. You deserve our every support,” she said.

Sen. Balint noted that both employers and lawmakers, ”realized that the most essential pieces of our economy and public safety literally couldn’t function without accounting for the care of young children and without continuing to support our working families. As a result, my colleagues and I have worked incredibly hard to get federal pandemic response assistance into the communities and to our constituents.”

The Day included a luncheon attended by legislators that gave advocates the opportunity to speak one-on-one with policy makers about issues that impact families and children in the areas of health, safety, economic security, food security, and early care and education. (See the full Alliance 2022 Legislative Agenda here: vecaa.org/legislative-agenda)  

After lunch, participants had time to debrief and network before gathering together again for concluding live remarks from Speaker of the House Rep. Jill Krowinski and recorded remarks from U.S. Representative Peter Welch and Governor Phil Scott.

Speaker Krowinski noted how ECDL brought many voices to the table. “We also recognize that historically marginalized populations and families with children have been especially impacted by the pandemic. Everyone’s voice is important. And that’s one reason why this event is so valuable – to bring your individual and collective voices to the legislative process,” she said.

Rep. Welch commented on the importance of the childcare workforce. “We’ve seen, especially through COVID, how absolutely essential it is that we have quality childcare, that we have universal pre-K, and we’ll never have that unless we have really well-paid and well-trained childcare workers,” he said.

Aly Richards, CEO of Let’s Grow Kids said, “This year’s ECDL was especially inspiring to see just how loud the early childhood advocate voice – from housing to mental health to early childhood education supporters – throughout the state has become. With continued support from the entire early childhood community coupled with commitment from state lawmakers through passage of the Child Care Bill (H.171), we’ve never been closer to achieving an affordable, high-quality child care system. But right now, the child care crisis has never been harder for families or for our early childhood educators. This legislative session, as part of the Alliance’s policy agenda, we’re working to address this crisis head on. With continued support from all of you, reaching both short and long term goals is entirely possibly.”

The Day concluded with comments from the Governor. “Please know that while we have a lot of work to do to help our kids recover from the impact of COVID, your commitment has made a big difference. We’ve seen the data and we know kids are struggling. But it’s going to take all of us pulling in the same direction to help get them back on track,” said Governor Scott. 

Thank you to everyone who was part of the wonderful event this year. We look forward to seeing you in-person next year on Wednesday, March 15, 2023!

Thank you to all of our sponsors who helped make Early Childhood Day at the Legislature so successful this year!

About Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance

The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a statewide coalition of early childhood professionals and providers, parents, organizations, and businesses working together to improve public policies that impact children from birth to age eight and families in the areas of health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education.

To achieve this goal, the Alliance focuses on the creation and support of an annual Legislative Agenda in the Vermont legislature. The Agenda includes priority issues for the coalition’s diverse voices from around the state.

The Alliance is a program of the Vermont Community Loan Fund.

For more information visit vecaa.org

About Let’s Grow Kids

Let’s Grow Kids is a nonprofit organization on a mission: ensuring affordable access to high-quality child care for all Vermont families by 2025. With over 30,000 supporters from all walks of life, Let’s Grow Kids is strengthening the early care and education system today and calling for lasting investments in child care. Together, we can give children a strong start and build a better Vermont for generations to come. Learn more at www.letsgrowkids.org.  

About Building Bright Futures

Building Bright Futures (BBF) is Vermont’s early childhood public-private partnership established by law to monitor the state’s early care, health and education systems and to advise the Administration and Legislature on early childhood policy. BBF serves as a statewide backbone organization, bringing early childhood stakeholders together to work collectively toward a coordinated, collaborative, and integrated early childhood system. For more information visit http://buildingbrightfutures.org/