City of Burlington, ONE Arts Community School Create Much Needed Child Care Slots in the Old North End

Burlington, Vt. – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger, Let’s Grow Kids, and ONE Arts announced the grand opening of the new ONE Arts Community School – Burlington in the Old North End. The child care center creates 28 new child care slots in Burlington, including 16 slots for infants and toddlers. 

ONE Arts has also committed to reserving 20 percent of slots for families through the City’s Early Learning Initiative First Steps Scholarship Program during the next five years. Let’s Grow Kids has been instrumental in helping the City develop its Early Learning Initiative (ELI) and advocating for affordable, high-quality childcare statewide.

In 2021, the City awarded ONE Arts with a $103,676 capacity grant to fund building renovations, high-quality classroom furnishings, and staff training. 

Mayor Miro Weinberger said, “We have a child care crisis in Vermont and throughout our country. Not enough children receive high-quality care, families are paying too much, and our child care workers don’t earn nearly enough for the essential work they provide. Through its unique, innovative and successful Burlington Early Learning Initiative, the City of Burlington is making investments and partnerships at the local level to address this national challenge, and I’m thrilled to have been able to work with Let’s Grow Kids and ONE Arts to create another much-needed daycare here in Burlington.”

Mayor Weinberger also issued a Proclamation today declaring May 6, 2022 “Childcare Provider Appreciation Day,” celebrating and thanking child care providers in Burlington.

Becca McHale and Margaret Coleman, ONE Arts co-founders said, "ONE Arts started eight years ago as a labor of love, just the rental of a small building with the two of us wanting to have a place for art and gathering in our neighborhood. We love the Old North End, and we have felt so fortunate to be able to connect with Old North End families through art!” 

Aly Richards, CEO of Let’s Grow Kids said, “This is what it’s all about -- these children, their essential early childhood educators, this beautiful new early learning environment here in the City of Burlington. This type of support from the City’s Early Learning Initiative will make high-quality early childhood education equitably accessible to dozens of children and families in the Old North End community. There are over 8,700 children across Vermont who still need this type of care and don’t have access to it. While this new center will provide children with the strong early start they deserve, our statewide child care crisis will only be solved by sustainable, long-term public funding. Let’s Grow Kids looks forward to supporting One Arts, the Mayor and the City of Burlington as we continue to build on this early learning initiative and a brighter future for all Vermonters.”

ONE Arts Community School
ONE Art’s Community School in Burlington is ONE Arts’ second child care center in Chittenden County and is an important addition to the Old North End; roughly half of the families at the Burlington location are benefiting from financial assistance.  

“After meeting Sarah McLellan, another O.N.E. resident, the three of us began dreaming of starting an early learning center right here, that would be a school that explored the vibrancy of the neighborhood. We feel deeply grateful to the City of Burlington and Let's Grow Kids for helping us create this amazing school that can be a place of learning and joy for young children, and a place of support and community for parents and caregivers,” McHale and Coleman said. “This would not have been possible without the financial support of the City and the guidance and encouragement from Let's Grow Kids!”

In addition to the essential childcare that will be provided, ONE Arts Community School also creates a unique community hub for families. ONE Arts, Inc. plans to use the space for family events, parenting and child development educational classes, and tax preparation support and services.

Background on Mayor’s Early Learning Initiative 
The Early Learning Initiative Capacity Grant Program, which was launched by Mayor Weinberger in 2017, has already helped create up to 92 new, high-quality spots in Burlington. With the opening of ONE Arts Community School - Burlington, that brings the total to 120 new child care spots in the City. 

The City’s Early Learning Initiative funds are awarded to both expand capacity of high-quality care, and to provide direct financial support to families who are struggling to find and afford the high cost of child care. Mayor Weinberger has fought for funding to support the expansion of high-quality child care. Since July 2018, the City has allocated $500,000 annually to fund the effort. 

Through a productive partnership with Let’s Grow Kids, the Burlington Early Learning Initiative has run a capacity grant program to increase and preserve high-quality child care spots in Burlington and has established the ELI First Steps Scholarship Program to provide Burlington families with access to high-quality care. Let’s Grow Kids is a nonprofit organization on a mission to ensure affordable access to high-quality child care for all Vermont families by 2025.

“High-quality child care plays a crucial role in preparing our youngest children for school and life. All Burlington children deserve this kind of care, but today it is out of reach for many. Our First Steps Scholarship Program, which is funded through Burlington’s Early Learning Initiative, offers hope that in the future we will be a city where all Burlington children get this care and a full opportunity to thrive,” Mayor Weinberger said.

The First Step Scholarship, which was created by City of Burlington in 2019, is paid for through the Early Learning Initiative and provides funding to make the staggering costs of child care more affordable to families; qualifying families can earn up to $85,800 annually. So far this year, First Steps has grown 35 percent over last year, funding 47 First Step Scholarships; seven of which are at ONE Arts in Old North End. This year, First Steps Scholarships expects to pay more than $250,000 in scholarships to help Burlington families pay for child care.

Investment in early childhood education has been demonstrated to help prepare children for school, narrow the opportunity gap, improve health outcomes, and reduce future public spending. ELI has focused primarily on children aged zero to three, since this age group has the least access to public funding. 

The Burlington Early Learning Initiative is among leaders nationally in its focus on infants and toddlers. The long-term goal of the program is to ensure that all Burlington children have the opportunity to succeed regardless of family income.

In previous years, the City’s Early Learning Initiative provided capacity grants to several facilities including: Pine Forest Children’s Center, Robin’s Nest Children’s Center, Burlington Children’s Space, and the Sara Holbrook Community Center. These grants have allowed facilities to increase enrollment and ensure high–quality care.

Kara Alnasrawi, the City’s Director of Economic Recovery, oversees the program. “The Early Learning Initiative has been a vital source of support for families as well as businesses,” Alnasrawi said. “By offering easy access to scholarships for families and capacity grants to childcare centers, the City of Burlington is making it possible for more parents to return to the workforce and more children to access high-quality care.” 


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