The mentoring project matches seasoned and successful early childhood professionals with less experienced child care providers to form an ongoing relationship that is practical, supportive and inspirational. Vermont Birth to Five selects and trains qualified professionals to become certified mentors, and works diligently to pair up mentors with providers seeking support (free of charge).

Individuals who strive to become a mentor are creating opportunities to flourish in the field of early childhood education. By guiding other child care providers, you create the potential for a mutually rewarding exchange of ideas and action that advances both people’s skills and knowledge.

Child care providers who request to be mentored are demonstrating commitment to their own professional development by expanding their repertoire of skills and building confidence. You work actively and openly with your mentor and take ownership rather than a passive role toward progress by focusing on your Individual Professional Development Plan.

In the mentoring relationship, you identify specific objectives to focus on, such as business operations, curriculum development and applications for the STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS), Vermont’s quality recognition and improvement system for child care, preschool and after school programs.

2016 Was a Great Year for Mentees!

By the end of 2016, VB5 peer mentors were supporting 443 family child care (FCC) providers (64% of FCC providers in the state), and had provided a total of 10,028 hours of mentoring and technical assistance (our highest total yet!). A great majority of mentees said that their mentor helped them reach their quality improvement and professional development goals. This included the 71% of mentees who hit a milestone that merited an incentive from VB5, such as an increase in STARS, starting a CACFP meals program, and achieving a professional credential.

In addition, our mentoring program grew in 2016 to allow for 4 mentors to focus on supporting 34 center-based child care programs in preparing for and/or partnering with their local schools on Act 166, Vermont’s Universal Prekindergarten law. It was a great year!

Mentoring and STARS

VB5 utilizes its experienced mentors and program specialists to guide child care providers through the application process. By encouraging providers to take on this challenge, as well as celebrating the achievements of each provider as they make improvements and earn more stars, we help providers strengthen their programs in support of the families they serve.

Watch this introductory video that explains the importance of STARS to child care providers and families.


  • Objectively find your program’s strengths and areas for improvement
  • Receive acknowledgement for your program’s accomplishments
  • Build pride in your program staff
  • Learn new skills and methods that raise your professional capabilities
  • Enhance the daily experience of children
  • Use your increasing level of stars to help families who qualify for low income child and dependent care tax credit
  • Attract families who value your professional dedication
  • Raise your program’s eligibility for awards based on STARS accreditation

Vermont Birth to Five believes strongly in STARS and continues to invest resources to support child care providers.

  • At the end of 2016, 92% of FCC providers receiving mentoring services were enrolled in STARS, compared with 74% statewide.

If you are a registered home-based provider or a licensed early care and education or school age program ready to “Step Ahead,” please access the STARS Easy application and full STARS application here.

For more information about  mentoring and STARS, please contact the regional manager in your area:

  • Burlington, Springfield and Hartford AHS Districts: Didi Harris – 802-343-7450
  • Newport, Barre and St. Johnsbury  AHS Districts: Lorraine Vernet  – 802-760-8878
  • St. Albans, Morrisville and Middlebury AHS Districts: LouAnn Beninati  – 802-578-5087
  • Bennington, Brattleboro and Rutland AHS Districts: Sharron Harrington – 802-681-8382