Vermont Community Preschool Collaborative (VCPC)
“It’s not easy to find a politician or community leader who doesn’t realize that pre-k is important. Through efforts of groups like VCPC, they actually have a good understanding of why pre-k matters to their children and to the future of the state of Vermont.”
— Lisa Ventriss
Communities across the nation have found that prekindergarten education that meets high quality benchmarks benefits children, their families, and their communities. Prekindergarten education has been shown to improve school performance and save money by reducing remedial and special education costs. Children who benefit from high quality prekindergarten education have greater employment and wage opportunities as adults and are less likely to participate in criminal and delinquent behaviors.
Over 70% of Vermont’s 13,000 preschool aged children have all parents in the workforce, resulting in the need for a system that can provide high quality prekindergarten education opportunities that meet a wide variety of families’ needs.
When VCPC launched in 2005, the total enrollment in Vermont for prekindergarten and prekindergarten special education was 2,500 children. Vermont’s school funding formula allowed school districts to count pre-k children in their census, but a serious deterrent remained: schools had to average their numbers for two years before receiving any public education dollars. VCPC provided bridge funding for those initial two years, allowing school districts to start up quality programs in partnership with community based child care programs without asking for budget increases. Over the past ten years, VCPC has continued to provide start up grants and technical assistance to help establish public school/child care partnerships that ensure access to high quality prekindergarten education. By the close of the 2014-2015 school year, more than 6,200 children were enrolled in high quality prekindergarten education programs around the state.
In 2014, Vermont achieved a major milestone with the passage of Act 166, requiring universal access to high quality prekindergarten education for ten hours a week at no cost to the family. Parents can choose the qualified program that their children will attend. These qualified programs will need to meet quality standards related to STARS, teacher licensure, and child assessment. The law must be fully implemented statewide by fall 2016.
VCPC has created the forum in communities for discussions between school districts and community based child care programs and is uniquely positioned to support the successful implementation of Act 166. Current key efforts include:
- Grants and technical assistance to communities to increase prekindergarten education quality and capacity through school and child care partnerships in the 2015-2016 school year
- Act 166 technical assistance in partnership with the Agencies of Education and Human Services directly to schools and child care programs as well as to others who can support the successful implementation of Act 166 including Building Bright Futures Regional Councils and Vermont Birth to Five mentors
- Addressing systemic barriers to implementation including the shortage of licensed early childhood education teachers working in child care programs
VCPC is part of a continuum of efforts by VB5 to strengthen and support a high quality early care and education system for all young children and their families.
Over ten years, VCPC has been instrumental in advancing publicly funded pre-kindergarten education throughout Vermont. Read this report to learn about the historical context, the role VCPC has played to help build a universal high quality pre-k system in Vermont, lessons learned and recommendations for next steps.
For more information about VCPC, contact Sherry Carlson – firstname.lastname@example.org
“VCPC is a collaborative that blends the funding and efforts of the Private Sector with the funding and efforts of the Public Sector. VCPC is a strategy with a lasting impact that focuses on what is best for Vermont’s children and the communities they live in.”
— Doug Henderson, A. D. Henderson Foundation