Special Accommodation Grants: Stabilize Child Care Access for Children with Special Health Needs
Special Accommodation Grants (SAGs) assist early educators in caring for children with special needs. With extra support, children can participate and benefit from high-quality early childhood education, and in turn, their parents are able to work. The Alliance supports the lead organizations’ request for $500,000 for SAGs and to integrate the program more fully with CIS Specialized Child Care. This investment will support the work of early childhood educators and CIS providers, and is in keeping with the state’s goal to provide truly integrated services for families.
LEAD ORGANIZATIONS: Child Care Resource, Vermont Family Network, and Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development.
Data and Talking Points
- Funding for SAGs – proposed to be $300,000 for FY22 – historically runs out two-thirds of the way through the fiscal year.
- Current low funding levels and complex administrative processes prevent the SAG program from accomplishing its goal, which is to prevent children with special needs from being expelled from care simply because they need extra support.
- Providing a unique budget line for SAGs would provide increased transparency, accountability, and allow the legislature to track utilization more accurately.
- Program changes in FY21 have turned SAGs from a grant program to a reimbursement model, which requires providers to make up-front investments without knowing if they will receive reimbursement.
- Your personal story as an early education provider, parent, or family member is our best advocacy tool! If you have personal experience applying for or utilizing a Special Accommodation Grant, please reach out to Margaret Atkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dan Brown, Alliance Public Engagement Director, (email@example.com) and we can connect you with your legislator.
- Advocates continue to educate legislators about how the shortage of funding and changes to the structure of the program has made access to the grant much more difficult especially for small centers and home-based providers, but we need to hear from you.
- To learn more about Special Accommodation Grants and how to advocate in the legislature, join us on March 10 for Early Childhood Day at the Legislature. Register on the Alliance website.