The VB5 mentoring project, completed at the end of 2017, matched seasoned and successful early childhood professionals with less experienced child care providers to form an ongoing relationship that was practical, supportive and inspirational. Vermont Birth to Five selected and trained qualified professionals to become certified mentors, and worked diligently to pair up mentors with providers seeking support (free of charge).

Individuals who strove to become a mentor were creating opportunities to flourish in the field of early childhood education. By guiding other child care providers, mentors created the potential for a mutually rewarding exchange of ideas and action that advanced both people’s skills and knowledge.

Child care providers who requested to be mentored demonstrated commitment to their own professional development by expanding their repertoire of skills and building confidence. They worked actively and openly with their mentor and took ownership rather than a passive role toward progress by focusing on their Individual Professional Development Plan.

Through the mentoring relationship, specific objectives were identified as focal points, 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.

Thanks in large part to the incredible success of the mentoring program, VB5 helped jump-start the quality of early care and learning programs in the state with more than 75% of early care and learning programs in the state now participating in the state’s quality recognition system (STARS) and 51% of programs with 3–5 stars.

Mentoring and STARS

VB5 utilized its experienced mentors and program specialists to guide child care providers through the STARS application process. By encouraging providers to take on this challenge, as well as celebrating the achievements of each provider as they made improvements and earned more stars, we helped providers strengthen their programs in support of the families they served.

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. 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.