Vermont’s Breakthrough Childcare Law: What You Need to Know

Vermont has ushered in a transformative childcare law, making waves as the first of its kind. This new legislation, however, faced obstacles, primarily centered around funding.

The Battle Over Funding

Initially, Governor Phil Scott opposed the proposal due to concerns about increased taxes with seemingly no added benefits for lower-income families already receiving childcare assistance. Despite his veto, the Vermont House and Senate joined forces to override it, and the bill is now official law.

Easing the Burden for Working Families

Vermont Speaker of the House, Jill Krowinski, emphasized the bill’s significance in addressing the challenges faced by Vermont families juggling childcare and work responsibilities.

Who Bears the Cost?

So, what will this childcare law cost taxpayers? Employers in Vermont will bear the brunt of the 0.44% childcare tax, while employees and self-employed individuals will contribute 0.11% of their income to support childcare initiatives.

Affordability for Families

To put it in perspective, this amounts to $1.10 for every $1,000 in covered wages. For a family of four already eligible for free childcare, the new tax would add no more than $4.13 to their monthly expenses (based on a $3,750 monthly income).

Expanding Assistance

While the law won’t make childcare free for all higher earners, it promises more affordable options. Currently, Vermont offers partial childcare assistance (with a family contribution of $200 per week) to families of four earning up to 350% of the federal poverty limit (equivalent to $105,000 annually).

Raising Income Thresholds

Starting in 2024, the new Vermont childcare law will raise these income thresholds. In April, families of four with an income at or below 175% of the federal poverty level ($52,500) will qualify for free childcare. By October, those with incomes at or below 575% of the federal poverty level ($172,500) will qualify for partial childcare subsidies.

Beyond Affordability

The law isn’t solely about affordability; it also aims to improve childcare accessibility. Grants will enable providers to offer extended hours and better accommodations for children with special needs.

The Vermont Childcare Crisis

Vermont faces a childcare crisis, with the average annual cost exceeding $26,000. According to Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, this law could reintegrate thousands of people into the workforce, bolstering the state’s economy.

A Broader Impact

Childcare expenses weigh heavily on families with multiple children and those with special needs. It’s not just a burden for low-income families but also impacts middle-class and higher-earning households.

A Path to Reentering the Workforce

This groundbreaking childcare law extends affordable quality childcare to children who previously didn’t qualify for assistance. It’s a step towards enabling parents to reenter the workforce, alleviating the strain of childcare costs.

In summary, Vermont’s new childcare law is a significant stride toward addressing childcare challenges faced by families across the state. It not only eases the financial burden but also paves the way for improved accessibility, potentially boosting Vermont’s workforce and economy in the process.