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To The Editor:
I have worked in the field of early education for 20 years providing early intervention services (speech and language) to young children, their parents and caregivers. What I have seen – especially with children who have had challenging early childhoods – validates the brain research that shows how much learning is occurring in the first few years of children's lives.
Eighty percent of the brain develops in the first three years of life and the strength of that mental foundation determines how likely a child is to succeed in school and beyond. Infants need responsive interactions with adults, good nutrition and a learning environment that is stimulating and nurturing.
Parents and providers also need to be supported. I teach a course about infant and toddler development to child care providers at the Community College of Vermont. It is essential that the individuals who care for our youngest children have the highest quality education. We need to have a skilled early childhood workforce to attend to children so that they can develop their attention and cognitive skills, which are the foundation for future learning.
Seventy percent of families with children under the age of 6 depend on up to 40 hours a week of child care. And yet, child care options in Vermont are inconsistent in quality and unaffordable for many. House bill H.270 will expand access to quality pre-kindergarten education programs for all children ages 3 to 5 in Vermont. Please tell your senator to pass H.270 so that each and every one of our children has access to a quality early experience.