Montpelier, April 25, 2012. With a vote of 16-13, the Vermont State Senate voted to grant child care providers the right to choose to collectively bargain with the state over issues the state controls. The child care providers will be partners with the state in setting policies related to their profession. This non-traditional union model is in effect in 12 states and has resulted in improved child care policies and a stronger and more stable child care workforce, both of which are critical to the early learning successes and development of our young children.
It was clear from the debate today that the supportive senators had nothing but respect for the people (mostly women) who care forour children everyday. Senator Cummings was especially poignant in her speech on the Senate floor, expressing respect for all the women in the child care field. She noted that the presence of child care providers in the State House throughout the session, “the women in blue t-shirts,” reminded her of the importance of these women in the lives of our children. Senator Baruth spoke from his heart as well, relaying to his colleagues his family experiences with child care providers and the impact that they had on his children.
“Two years of hard work paid off tonight for Vermont’s children and families,” stated Sheila Reed, Associate Director of Voices forVermont’s Children. “We are now one step closer to ensuring that the people who care for our children everyday will have a full voice in developing state child care policies.”
Child care providers throughout the state have come together over the past two years to work with their colleagues to make this happen. “I have worked in this profession for 40 years and I know, first hand, how important it is to have a voice in the decision-making process,” stated Judy Pransky owner and director of a child care center in St. Johnsbury. “If we can make it through the final legislative process, I know that we will work together to improve quality, access and affordability and build the early care and education system Vermont’s children deserve -we know what needs to be done and it is time to do it,” she said.
“We are endlessly grateful to the legislators who supported us on the floor today, they have clearly taken the time to understand our work.” Cathi Ste. Marie, a registered home provider from North Troy, said, expressing the sentiments of many early educators across the state. “Our collective voice will be so much more effective than our individual voices in setting policies that affect the children we serve. We look forward to being true partners with the state to strengthen our profession in order to better serve our families,” she added.