What is your vision for Vermont's early care and education system, and how would you propose funding this system?
The last several months have highlighted the ways in which child care is important, not just to individual families, but to the state economy. Vermont advocates have been effective in painting a stark picture: demand for care far outstrips supply; the cost of care – which can exceed 40% of a family’s income – is too high for many to afford; child care workers, the backbone of the system, experience high turnover rates in part because they earn less than a livable wage, often without benefits. Expanding access to high quality child care in Vermont costs real money. What Let’s Grow Kids, the Center for American Progress, and others have tried to make clear is that the upfront cost of a high quality child care network is offset by an expanded tax base as more parents are able to go to work, increased opportunities to improve the health and nutrition of children in care, and reductions in the public subsidies upon which many child care workers currently rely. If recognized as a national leader in providing universal access to child care, Vermont can enjoy a competitive edge in recruiting employers who are looking to relocate or professionals who want to start a family. As a first-time candidate, I am learning the ways in which state, federal, and private sector dollars currently support the existing child care system and our options to expand that commitment. This will be a priority for me in the coming session.