by Roland Groeneveld We all faced a barrage of unforeseen challenges when the pandemic hit. As an employer who cares deeply about our teams, we prioritized the health and safety of our dedicated employees to ensure their critical work in the field can continue. While we have done our best to address each new challenge associated with the pandemic, there is one ongoing crisis that we have not been able to overcome.
That crisis is childcare. Affordable, high-quality child care is essential for all Vermonters. Since the start of the pandemic, childcare has become even more difficult for our employees to find and afford, and for early childhood educators to provide.
Right now, thousands of children and families across Vermont cannot access the child care they need. The scope of this problem includes our state’s ability to attract new businesses, create jobs, recruit top talent, and attract more young families and working adults. The child care crisis is costing us money and limiting our ability to fulfill essential roles — a combination that will continue to have long-term consequences for Vermont employers. But we can change that.
To effectively address the child care crisis, we must increase public investment in Vermont’s child care system for children ages 0-5 to make it affordable for families and fairly compensated early childhood educators for their essential work.
Child advocacy organization Let’s Grow Kids estimates that there are at least 5,000 adults in Vermont who want to reenter the workforce or increase their work hours but are unable to because they cannot find or afford care for children. That’s too many Vermonters to exclude from our workforce. Research shows that enabling these parents to enter the workforce would boost Vermont’s economy by at least $375 million year over year.
We chose to build our businesses in Vermont because we love the state’s resilience, grit, and community. Vermont has the quality of life that so many people seek and the potential for new businesses to locate here, but only if we can support our workforce with high-quality, affordable and accessible child care.
That’s why – as business leaders – we’ve endorsed the Vermont Child Care Campaign and urge other employers to do the same. Voicing your support for the campaign and for public investment in our state’s child care system is not only the right thing to do for your employees, but also for Vermont’s economic future.
Roland Groeneveld is co-founder and CEO of OnLogic in South Burlington, Lisa Groeneveld is co-founder and VP of OnLogic, Eli Lesser-Goldsmith is co-owner and CEO of Health Living (South Burlington and Williston locations), and Nina Lesser-Goldsmith is co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of Healthy Living.