9-17-15 – Hostile Takeover of Childcare Business Preparing for Next Step

by Rob Roper

A recent article in Vermont Digger called attention to a need for more childcare options in Vermont. However, there was one revealing exchange mixed in with the alarm. “As of 2013, Vermont’s licensed child care – including home care — providers had capacity for 27,500 children.” Vermont has a total of about 26,000 kids aged six or younger. In other words, the capacity already exists.

So, why are some, like the subject of the article, Julie Coffey, executive director of Building Bright Futures, raising the flag of crisis?

For over a decade, the formal expansion of publicly funded “universal” pre-k has been a thinly veiled hostile takeover by the public school monopoly of Vermont’s hundreds of small, privately operated childcare providers. Since the passage of Act 60 in 1997, the public k-12 system in Vermont has lost over 20,000 students, and the unions want to bring those 26,000 infants and toddlers onto their plantation – and send Vermont property taxpayers the bill.

According to ChildcareCenter.US, there are 637 preschools and child development centers operating in the state of Vermont. Most of these are small businesses operated in great part by women. The public school monopoly is waging a long-term campaign to quietly drive them out of business. How?

Ms. Coffee of Building Bright Futures laments not the lack of childcare, but the lack of “high quality, affordable” childcare. Translation: “high quality” means “monopoly run or approved,” and “affordable” means “taxpayer subsidized.”

Under these parameters, private childcare providers can never compete. Those who cannot afford to spend the time and money (because, you know, providing childcare leaves one with so much free time and extra cash) to comply with these “quality” regulations are saddled with the stigma of being of poor or lesser quality. At the same time, if you don’t jump through the hoops and can’t qualify for taxpayer subsidies, your center costs more to the customer than the monopoly approved center.

The perceptions of higher cost/lower quality a no win situation. So, as a result, a minority of private providers may position themselves to be absorbed by the monopoly, but the majority will eventually go out of business. As these small, private businesses fall away, the monopoly that’s killing them will swoop in to take over the market share at property taxpayers’ expense.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

H. Brooke Paige September 17, 2015 at 11:54 pm

Can We Be Hard-Headed About Preschool? A Look at Head Start
By: Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst of the Brookings Institute

A great read on why “pre-K” provides no long term advantages for underprivileged children and is little more than taxpayer funded daycare.

Here is the “pull quote” conclusion:

“There is no measurable advantage to children in elementary school of having participated in Head Start. Further, children attending Head Start remain far behind academically once they are in elementary school. Head Start does not improve the school readiness of children from low-income families”.



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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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