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Submitted by AMoore@leg.sta… on

March 31, 2023  

Ashley Moore
Senator Hardy

Senator Lyons

Senator Jane Kitchel

Senator Ram Hinsdale

Senator Cummings


MONTPELIER, VT –  Today the Vermont Senate passed S.56, an act relating to child care and early childhood education. The bill passed by voice vote, after passing second reading yesterday on a vote of 24-6. This bill would transform Vermont’s child care system, making child care more accessible and affordable for thousands of Vermonters and improving compensation for early childhood educators. 

“Childcare spots are difficult to find in nearly every community in the state – by one estimate, the state falls short by over 8,000 childcare slots. And even when families can find a place for their child, most struggle to pay the high cost of childcare,” said Senator Hardy, lead sponsor of the bill. “It’s a vicious cycle, and the math never adds up for families, childcare programs, early childhood educators, or employers. And most especially, it doesn’t add up for our kids, who matter the most. S.56 seeks to change that.”

“I want to thank those who have worked so diligently on this bill,” said Senator Lyons, co-lead sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare. “With the passage of S.56, we are fulfilling our commitment to families and providers to address the urgent child care crisis.”

S.56 would increase access to quality child care services throughout Vermont, provide financial stability to child care programs, support and stabilize Vermont’s child care workforce, address the workforce needs of Vermont employers. It would also create a Prekindergarten Education Study Committee to provide policy recommendations for how to improve and expand accessible, affordable and high-quality prekindergarten education. 

“We had a range of businesses speak to the Senate Committee on Economic Development saying they could no longer go it alone to provide child care to their employees - and they’ve tried,” said Senator Ram Hinsdale, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development. “The only solution is a statewide approach that pays early educators what they need and deserve while bringing the costs down for families. That's what we are delivering in this bill. As an expecting parent, I’ve already experienced the stress and uncertainty so many young families face trying to find child care. Additionally, the bill’s twelve weeks of paid family leave will be a game changer for so many families and will help keep parents in the workforce by signaling that we want them to take the time they need and then return when ready.”

“Child care assistance is not new. But like many core programs, the level of funding has not kept pace with the cost of providing the care," said Senator Kitchel, chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. “This bill is reflective of the commitment we made this session to address the availability and affordability of childcare.” 

“Today we took a major step forward with the initial passage of S.56, a bill that would transform Vermont’s child care system,” said Senator Baruth, president pro tempore of the Senate. “And with the inclusion of a 12-week parental leave benefit, this bill will enable parents to choose to stay home and care for their new child or seek child care from a provider. We’ve heard from hundreds of parents, providers and members of the business community about the urgent need to address the child crisis to support children and families, our workforce and economy. S.56’s passage represents our unwavering commitment to addressing this urgent need.”

The bill will now move to the House for further consideration.