As the end of the year approaches, the staff at the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is reflecting on the challenges and accomplishments of 2020. At the same time, we are looking forward to continuing our work to improve the lives of Vermont’s young children, families, and early childhood professionals in 2021.
Early in 2020, we were disappointed to cancel the 26th annual Early Childhood Day at the Legislature (ECDL). At the time we couldn’t have known the terrible journey we were all starting on, and we were heartened by the support of our members, sponsors, and community as we made that difficult decision. We are currently planning a dynamic, virtual ECDL for March 2021 – a Save the Date and more information will be coming soon!
The 2020 legislative session stretched through the summer into September, and showed that children were a clear priority in the State House, even (or especially) during a pandemic. The early childhood community’s advocacy this session showcased the strength of the Alliance and our collective efforts. While many of our Legislative Agenda items saw only modest policy gains, our members worked tirelessly – with remarkable cohesion – to support Vermont’s young children and families through these difficult times. We can be very sure that our collective advocacy voice – your advocacy voice – was heard by legislators. This commitment to collaboration will serve us well in 2021.
In September, our Annual Membership Meeting brought together early childhood professionals and providers, parents, and employers from around the state to discuss topics around the theme “Rebuilding Stronger.” For many, the highlight was a panel discussion reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on the early childhood community and how, together, we can build better systems during the pandemic recovery that improve the long-term well-being of the early childhood community.
At the close of 2020, the Alliance is making plans for the year ahead, including: launching the 2021 Legislative Agenda, which will focus on 11 issues related to health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education; opening our new membership cycle and deepening our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; and hosting the virtual ECDL in March.
As we reflect and plan, we pause for a moment to thank all of you for being part of the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance, and for speaking up on behalf of Vermont’s children. It’s a pleasure working together. You’ll be hearing from us next in early January.
On a more personal note, best wishes for a happy and safe holiday season from my own little early childhood “alliance” – though the kids aren’t so little anymore!
Happy holidays from all of us.