WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR VERMONT'S EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION SYSTEM, AND HOW WOULD YOU PROPOSE FUNDING THIS SYSTEM?
Fifty years ago, a single income could support a family. That is no longer true for 90% or more of two-parent families, to say nothing of single-earner households. Affordable child care is obviously a critical need. Yet child-care workers are among the lowest-paid in the economy. Something has to give — actually, many things have to give: it can't wait for the State to find $200 million. Raising the minimum wage helps raise child-care workers' wages. Increasing incentives for businesses to share in the cost of their employees' child-care costs would help spread the financial responsibility. Creating more flexibility for in-home child-care facilities would help add more options for parents. Making creative use of under-used school facilities would also help expand options and keep our schools vibrant. As a parent, I know early child-care starts before birth. Parenting is a demanding role, and new parents need help coping with and embracing it. In my view, public support for education — birth through college or trade school — is far more effective than the alternative, which for some people without family resources includes lack of engagement, anti-social behavior, drug misuse, and incarceration.