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June 3, 2024

Act 76 creates a brighter future for child care in Vermont

Act 76 creates a brighter future for child care in Vermont

In 2023, just months after First Children’s Finance established its Vermont office, Vermont passed Act 76, which makes a significant investment in Vermont’s child care system by supporting providers and families. First Children’s Finance’s work has been instrumental in helping child care businesses navigate the new law and opportunities in Vermont. Here’s how a rural child care program benefitted from Act 76 and support from First Children’s Finance.

Across much of Vermont, towns like Enosburg Falls – population 1,356 – often struggle with child care supply. While the need is there, the cost of building and staffing new centers often is a roadblock to solving the community’s supply issue. 

Ronda McAllister, owner of The Learning Tree Child Care Center, wanted to build a new facility to help meet her community’s need. She carefully gathered funding to make her vision possible. Despite her diligent efforts to fully fund the project, construction costs came in higher than expected, and the center needed more funding than was raised.

First Children’s Finance connected them with the Vermont Community Loan Fund and the Fund’s representatives said that because Act 76 increased the financial assistance reimbursement, it made Ronda’s business a better candidate for a loan.  

In April 2024, The Learning Tree Child Care Center opened in its new building, adding 15 more toddler slots, more than what had been anticipated. 

“I can’t express how thankful I am for all of the support – financially and emotionally – that First Children’s Finance has given me,” Ronda wrote in April. “They are there at any time for me, and it’s so appreciated.” 

The ramifications of Act 76 keep making a difference in Ronda’s community. After the state increased eligibility for financial assistance for families in April, she was able to call five families to let them know that they didn’t need to pay anymore because state financial assistance would cover it. 

“Two of the families cried,” she said. 

And she can also now use the state rate increases to give her staff raises. “Act 76 has helped the community in general, the families, children, my staff, and other local businesses. We are ALL better off!”