Aly Richard’s twins, Beau and Wesley. Photo used with permission.
As I write this, my grandmother is bouncing Beau, and Wesley just peed on my mom.
When I found out I would be having twins, I was ecstatic. My entire career has been driven by my deep belief that every child deserves the best possible start in life. Now I had the chance to live this passion on a personal level.
As CEO of Let’s Grow Kids (LGK)—a statewide movement in Vermont working to ensure all families have affordable access to high-quality child care by 2025—I knew the challenges I’d likely face in my child care search. I knew from LGK’s own research that 65% of Vermont infants likely to need care don’t have access to any regulated child care programs and 84% don’t have access to high-quality programs.
So, I was prepared for a difficult child care search but I also thought if anyone can make this work, I should be able to. I am so lucky to be surrounded by the support that enveloped my new family from all sides—our own little village. My husband and I have good jobs with great benefits. We have family nearby and a solid social network. But even with our advantages, we’re cobbling together child care and encountering many of the same obstacles that families in Vermont and across the nation face.
Throughout this process, I can’t help but think, what about those who don’t have any of these supports? How are they getting by, let alone thriving, at what should be the most joyful and fulfilling time in their lives: becoming parents and nurturing happy, healthy children?
My twin boys are now six months old and I’m just returning back to my full-time role as CEO. I’ve been fully engaged in the jigsaw puzzle of piecing together care from my parents and friends, paying for someone to come into our home, and hoping to get off the waitlist at a child care center. This seems like an odd way for us to function as an efficient and effective society. And to honor what we know through science and common sense—that supporting our children is the best possible return on investment.
In Vermont, LGK is taking a statewide approach to solving this problem. We are working with our partners—including business, education and health care leaders, elected officials and local communities—to build a high-quality, affordable child care system. I truly believe that Vermont can be a leader on this front. With only 6,000 babies born annually, and a statewide movement pushing us toward the finish line, Vermont is well-positioned to model how a determined community can deliver affordable access to high-quality child care for all who need it.
This year, I also had the great honor to be recognized by Save the Children as a Changemaker for Children – someone who “raises their voice to drive change for children in need.” And I’m thankful that Save the Children Action Network has joined us in focusing on Vermont’s young children in particular, as early childhood is the greatest possible time to make the biggest impact that we can on our future.
When I look at my twin baby boys, I’m in awe of what’s going on behind those twinkling eyes. Every interaction is literally laying the foundation for their future success in school, relationships and life.
Now my babies are giggling on the playmat—and one just rolled over! How can we not do everything within our collective power to give all children the best fighting chance at a happy, healthy life? We all benefit when we do right by our kids.