This Issue Update newsletter is part of a series that provides more information on each priority issue on the Alliance's 2024 Legislative Agenda. The Legislative Agenda is crafted annually in partnership with early childhood organizations that are advancing legislative policy solutions related to health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education. The priority issues were selected by the Alliance's 21 member Steering Committee.


Perinatal Loss: Funding to Strengthen Peer Support

There is a clear gap of support for perinatal loss in Vermont. These events include when a baby has died in pregnancy through the first year of infancy. Historically, perinatal loss has been a hidden or disenfranchised grief, and thus not adequately supported by the community. Yet, we know that parents facing perinatal loss are at much greater risk for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders compared to non-bereaved parents. Empty Arms Vermont is the only statewide organization that provides comprehensive peer support for any family in Vermont facing pregnancy or infant loss.

The Alliance supports the Empty Arms effort to secure one-time funding of $40,000 for two years to expand operational capacity so that the organization has the personnel resources and time to scale up its programs and develop a long-term plan for sustainable funding.

Update: Empty Arms Vermont has been engaged in initial conversations with the House Health Care and Human Services Committees on the need for strengthening perinatal loss peer support and will begin to ramp up our advocacy efforts as we look toward the FY 25 budget.


Data and Talking Points

  • Bereaved birthing parents have four times greater odds of major depression and seven times greater odds of post-traumatic stress disorder than non-bereaved birthing parents. 
  • Untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders account for an estimated $48 million in societal costs in Vermont. The state, insurers, and families bear this cost. Supporting comprehensive support services for perinatal loss ultimately decreases the incurred costs for untreated mental illness.
  • Social support plays a role in buffering the effects of trauma and in mediating stress after bereavement.
  • An intervention that allows mothers to express their emotions and retell their stories helps to decrease depression, self-blame, and trauma.

Lead Organization

Empty Arms Vermont

Empty Arms Vermont provides peer support to individuals and families whose babies have died through miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant death, or termination for medical reasons. By cultivating personal connections, creating a compassionate community, and fostering professional collaborations, we provide grieving parents with valuable resources and validation as they navigate the murky days, weeks, and lifetime without their baby.


The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a statewide coalition formed in 2000 of early childhood professionals, parents, organizations, businesses, and strategic partners committed to improving public policies that impact young children between birth and age eight in the areas of health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education.

The Alliance crafts an annual Legislative Agenda in partnership with early childhood organizations, provides year-round advocacy support, and facilitates meaningful interactions with policymakers at key times during the decision making process.


Alliance Equity Discussion – 1/26; “The State of Vermont’s Children"; Child Care Campaign Update – 1/25; STARS Implementation Session – 2/16; Join the Alliance Today; Register for ECDL

Issue Update - Paid Leave

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The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a program of the Vermont Community Loan Fund.

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