Child care is fundamental to household economics, and therefore farm economics. Farmers with children must continuously negotiate access to affordable child care as the needs of their children and families change. Planning for these adjustments is part of whole-farm business planning, yet rarely taken into account in farm business support. Even with financial assistance, Vermont families may spend almost 30% of their annual income on child care. Vermont estimates the basic wage needed for two adults with two children (ages 4 and 6) to live alone and support their children is $31.75 per hour (or $66,036 annually), often far above a farmer’s or farmworker’s hourly wage. Child care is also the best way to keep farm children safe. Addressing farm families’ and farm workers’ need for child care is necessary to support long-term, thriving, and equitable food systems in Vermont. There is further need to examine how national and state child care policies intersect with farm family well-being and farm economic development.
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