2023 Legislative Agenda Early April Update – Early Childhood Issues in the State House

The Legislative session has passed another key point in the calendar. The House has passed their FY24 Budget and other bills have moved from one chamber to the other, now that the “crossover” deadline has passed. We have had some considerable victories in some areas, while other issues have had more challenges.

With Adjournment likely about five weeks away, it’s a good time to check on the progress of our various campaigns. Here are brief updates on the status of the issues on the Alliance’s ’23 Legislative Agenda.

For questions about the policy details or the legislative process, please contact Matt Levin, Executive Director at matt@vecaa.org.


Family & Medical Leave Insurance: Improving the Health and Well-Being of Vermont Families

On March 24 the House passed H. 66, a strong bill which would establish a universal, equitable, state managed family and medical leave insurance program. The House vote on the bill indicated that there would be enough votes in the House to overturn a veto, should the bill be passed by the Senate and vetoed by the Governor.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where leadership has shown less support. The Senate has included a limited parental leave proposal in their version of their child care bill. The Paid Leave Coalition is continuing to urge the Senate to give H.66 a full hearing and to pass the bill.

For more information, see the Paid Leave Coalition’s webpage.

Lead Organizations: Main Street Alliance and Voices for Vermont’s Children


Reach Up: Ending Child Poverty is Within Our Reach​

Last month, the House passed H. 94, a bill that would require the Administration to develop a plan (and funding model) to eliminate the ratable reduction over the next five years. Advocates strongly support the bill, which is now being taken up by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

The House FY24 Budget does include a base funding increase for Reach Up, to take into account projected caseload increases. This increase was also included in the Governor’s Recommended FY24 Budget. However, the House did not make any changes to the size of Reach Up grants, which continue to be woefully inadequate.

The House Human Services Committee recommended to the House Appropriations Committee that the House Budget add $3 million to pay for the cost of moving from a calculation of “basic needs” based on 2019 data to one using 2023 data. This change would have resulted in increased benefits for all Reach Up families. The Committee also recommended that language be added to the statutes that would make updates to the annual rate automatically take place every year. Unfortunately, these changes were not included in the House Budget.

Advocates are asking Senators to include both recommendations in the Senate’s FY24 Budget.

For more information, see Voices’ Mid-Session Legislative Roundup.

Lead Organization: Voices for Vermont’s Children


Housing and Homelessness: Increase Access to Safe, Stable and Affordable Housing for all Children ​

The FY24 Budget as passed by the House includes $29 million between base and one-time funding to provide emergency housing on a time-limited basis for those who qualify for General Assistance (GA) emergency housing, and for all who are unhoused during the cold weather months using the Adverse Weather Hybrid policy that was employed this past winter. This is the same amount as was included in the Governor’s Recommended FY24 Budget for GA emergency housing. With 1,800 households currently receiving housing through the extension of the pandemic emergency housing hotel/motel voucher program that ends by the end of June, this still leaves many vulnerable Vermonters without shelter on July 1, 2023. Four hundred and fifty of the households at last count included children with families.

While the House’s Budget includes significant investments to increase affordable housing and rental units and the Senate has passed a wide-ranging bill, S.100, to facilitate affordable housing development, housing capacity will not be ready to house all of these households by July 1. With this in mind, the House FY24 Budget includes an additional investment of $20 million to ease this transition from the GA Emergency Housing Hotel/Motel Program, with half of the money for increasing manufactured home capacity and half targeted for flexible support and service dollars. This is still less than the $72 million that housing advocates believe is needed to provide a bridge from homelessness to permanent housing availability to ensure no Vermonter is without shelter in FY24. Conversations are just beginning with Senators regarding their budget.

Two studies are included in the House Budget that would look at reimagining the GA emergency housing program using Crisis Standards of Care in place of weather as a determinant of emergency housing availability, and provide a Homelessness Response Systems Analysis to create a longer-term plan to address homelessness in Vermont. As these two work groups will take time to convene and develop recommendations, housing advocates will be asking the Senate to provide adequate funding in their FY24 Budget to provide shelter options until the investments and studies provide solutions to our current housing crisis.

To learn more about the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition's strategies for addressing the current housing crisis, read the Bridges to Housing Proposal, which was prepared earlier this year by state housing leaders.

For more information, see VAHC’s latest update.

Lead Organization: Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition


Transforming Child Care

Child care has been identified as a priority issue for the House and Senate this legislative session, and both chambers have taken action to make progress on solving Vermont's child care crisis.

The Senate recently passed S.56, an act relating to child care and early childhood education, on a bipartisan vote of 24-6. The bill would change the trajectory of our state by making child care more accessible and affordable for thousands of Vermont's youngest children and their families, and would improve quality by increasing compensation for early childhood educators. Highlights of the bill include: expanding eligibility in the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) to include families earning up to 600% of the federal poverty level ($180,000 for a family of four); increasing CCFAP reimbursement rates for child care programs of all types; shifting to an enrollment based payment system in CCFAP; establishing grants to child care programs for use in recruiting and retaining early childhood educators; creation of a study committee on pre-K expansion; and reports back to the Legislature on child care system governance, the creation of an early childhood educator compensation scale, and shifting to a true cost of care reimbursement model in CCFAP.

The House Human Services and Education Committees are currently reviewing the Senate version of S. 56 and developing a House version. The bill will then be considered by the House Ways and Means and Appropriations Committees for revenue and spending decisions before going to the House floor for a full vote. As this work continues, child care advocates will be encouraging the House to pass a strong child care bill in 2023.

The House FY24 Budget passed last month includes $72 million in funding set aside for child care, a clear indication of the House's deep commitment to child care this year. The Senate is considering these proposals as they work on their budget bill.

To learn more and to get involved in the advocacy effort, see www.letsgrowkids.org

Lead OrganizationsLet’s Grow Kids and the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children


Children's Integrated Services (CIS): Protect Family Access to Integrated Support Through CIS​

The House FY24 Budget includes an increase of $950,830 to CIS base funding to support a projected caseload increase in coming months. This increase is identical to the one in the Governor’s Recommended FY24 Budget. Providers are concerned that they will not be able to provide services to an expanded caseload due to staffing constraints, but the funding increase is still good news.

The House FY24 Budget also includes $768,180 in one-time funding to allow three more regional CIS fiscal agents to adopt the Salesforce-based data system that has been developed by the Family Center of Washington County. Thanks are due to the House Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee for their strong support for this proposal.

The Senate will consider both proposals in the coming weeks.

Lead Organizations: Vermont Parent Child Center Network and Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development


Parent Child Center Network Integrated Grant: Fully Fund Vermont’s Parent Child Centers​

This year, the Parent Child Center (PCC) Network continues to focus on increasing the base funding for the PCC Integrated Grant, which is the funding source for their partnership with the state. Their advocacy goal for FY24 is to have the Integrated Grant funded at $10 million, as opposed to the current funding of $4.8 million.

The FY24 Budget passed by the House increases that base by $2 million, to a total of $6.8 million. The Network is supporting the House proposal while they continue advocating for the full $5.2 million funding increase in the Senate.

Lead Organization: Vermont Parent Child Center Network


Universal School Meals: Confirm the Education Fund as the Permanent Funding Source for Universal School Meals​

In a major step forward for the campaign, on March 24 the House passed H.165, the Universal School Meals bill. Advocates strongly supported the bill, which confirms that funding for the program should come from the state’s Education Fund. The bill received strong support in votes, and champions of the bill did a great job presenting the bill on the floor.

The bill now moves to the Senate, and preliminary hearings have begun in the Senate Education Committee.

For more information see the Hunger Free Vermont Universal School Meals campaign webpage.

Lead Organization: Hunger Free Vermont


Vermont Diaper Bank: A Sustainable Statewide Solution for Diaper Need​

The Governor’s Recommended FY24 Budget did not include funding for a state diaper bank. The House Human Services Committee recommended to the House Appropriations Committee that it consider allocating partial, one-time funding to support diaper bank operations. Unfortunately, the House Budget does not include any funding for the program.

Advocates have turned their focus to the Senate, and will be requesting $380,000 in base funding to support continuing operations of the Diaper Bank.

Lead OrganizationJunior League of Champlain Valley


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 Monthly Equity Discussion; Child Care Bill Update; VTAEYC Week of the Young Child; Grant Opportunities

Issue Update - Housing and Homelessness

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

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