Respect for Childcare Workers
I am writing in response to Alison Novak’s excellent article, “Help Needed: Chronic Staffing Problems Stress Vermont’s Childcare Centers — and the Families They Serve” [June 8]. I am glad the problem is getting some attention and that the legislature responded by allocating funds. As the article pointed out, much more needs to be done.
Ignored by some statewide organizations and the Agency of Human Services’ Child Development Division is the chronic underfunding of nonprofit, community-based childcare support agencies across Vermont. In Chittenden County, Child Care Resource is the state-contracted nonprofit responsible for helping families locate quality childcare and for processing financial assistance applications. We maintain a database of all county childcare programs, with data on openings, fees and program philosophy. For no charge, we search this database for families looking for care, and, once in care, we help them secure state subsidy if financial assistance is needed. We visit programs to help solve curriculum, classroom and behavior challenges, and we work with specialized childcare.
Vermont continues to underfund this work by level-funding our contracts, and, as a result, inflation-driven expenses, staff raises and increased caseloads are ignored. The deficits fall on the backs of community providers to resolve.
It is past time to focus attention on this issue before the employees who worked very hard throughout the pandemic and continue to provide critical support leave for the same reason early childhood educators are leaving: a lack of respect, uncertain future sustainability and inadequate compensation. We are almost at that point.
Jane Van Buren
Van Buren is executive director of Child Care Resource.
Called to Art
In the depths of long COVID-19, I had exhaustion like never before. It took me all day to put one foot in front of the other, and I was worried exhaustion was going to be a permanent state of being for me. Instead, I grabbed Seven Days‘ “Call to Artists” page the first week of March, and, lo and behold, it gave me a wonderful jump start that has lasted until now. I started painting again and entered a few competitions. I have Seven Days to thank for it. I submitted the listing for my upcoming show, “Declined,” on July 3 in Montpelier. Thanks again.
The article “Tried and True” on the Red Onion [April 27] was interesting because I knew the original owners, Mike and Mary Bourassa, who at the time in the late 1980s needed a painting. I sold them “The Red Onion Lady.” I have wondered if anyone out there knows what became of it?
Mary Alice Clark
A few statistics from the article on the formula “shortage” were eye-popping [“Feeding Anxiety,” May 18] — the first being that three-quarters of U.S. babies rely on it, either fully or partly. Mentioned only slightly was the reason for the plant shuttering: Four infants got product with bacteria, and two died. But, as I recall, the bacteria samples found in the plant by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration were not the same type as found in that product.
That fully half of formula used in the U.S. is through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is horrifying. That means 50 percent of our kids are being raised in poverty, in the “richest country” on the planet.
Very interesting was the woman clandestinely importing formula from Germany after being cautioned against using it by a pediatrician because it doesn’t have FDA approval. Is the good doctor unfamiliar with German and European Union food purity laws? Our FDA has dropped the ball here, and our administration does a 180 and blames anything and anyone but itself, the massive Washington, D.C., swamp.
“Build Back Better,” indeed.
Clear Choice for U.S. Congress
Vermont cannot risk picking the wrong person to represent us in Congress [“Democratic Congressional Candidates Debate,” June 9].
Molly Gray’s brief tenure as lieutenant governor has not readied her for the magnitude of Congress. In the Seven Days debate, Gray was asked what tangible steps she had taken to address climate change; she couldn’t answer. Further, the LG was easily flustered when pushed to give examples of action on other issues, instead pointing to “conversations.”
Gray can’t handle these questions, because she just hasn’t put in enough time or work on the issues.
She hasn’t been an organizer or held any other elected office besides a year and a half as LG, and she couldn’t even regularly vote as a citizen.
She’s never been in a Statehouse committee room collaborating with colleagues to find solutions and compromises on tough issues.
She’s never even drafted legislation or voted on a bill, at any level of government.
You know who has? Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint.
Balint has put in the time and the work and has produced results for Vermont over the last decade. As she pointed out in the debate, there’s a real difference between talking about an issue and taking the responsibility to vote on it.
Balint has my vote, not just because she’s delivered results but also because she has spent decades working alongside community organizers like me to make Vermonters’ lives better. She leads with courage, respect and kindness. Balint’s ready for Congress.
What a touching story [From the Publisher: “School of Hard Knocks,” June 22]. A dance routine is so middle school and crushingly age-appropriate! I can totally feel how Paula Routly must have felt, coming up to a microphone and sensing her classmates were already leaning away from her. There is no greater pressure than that we put on ourselves, especially at that age.
Fast-forward to the present: I am 100 percent in favor of having today’s candidates do some kind of dance number to show us what they’ve got. We’d have much better insight on who they are, wouldn’t we?!
Anne Linton Elston