Vermont Community Preschool Collaborative (VCPC)
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 attendance numbers for two years before receiving any public education dollars. VCPC provided bridge funding for those initial two years, allowing school districts to start quality programs in partnership with community-based child care programs without asking for budget increases.
In 2014, Vermont achieved a major milestone with the passage of Act 166, which requires universal access to high-quality pre-K education for ten hours each week at no cost to the family. Parents can choose the qualified program that their children will attend. These qualified programs need to meet quality standards related to STARS, teacher licensure, and child assessment. The law was fully implemented statewide in the fall of 2016.
VCPC has continued to provide start-up grants and technical assistance to help establish public school/child care partnerships and support implementation of Vermont’s universal pre-K law to ensure access to high-quality pre-K education. By the close of the 2016–17 school year, more than 8,800 children were enrolled in high-quality pre-K education programs around the state.
With over 72% of Vermont’s 3- and 4-year-olds participating in publicly funded pre-K, VCPC has achieved its goal of universal pre-K for Vermont’s children, and Vermont Birth to Five will conclude the VCPC program at the end of the current VCPC grant cycle on August 1, 2018.
In 2018, Vermont Birth to Five re-aligned its strategies with the Permanent Fund’s mission to ensure that every Vermont child has access to high-quality and affordable early care and education by 2025.
In recognition of the ongoing dearth of child care capacity, VB5’s primary focus will be to increase the supply of high-quality child care community-by-community across Vermont. That work will be supported by complementary projects that build operational excellence, develop a strong early education workforce and ensure high-functioning statewide systems.
For more information about Vermont Birth to Five’s Make Way for Children Grant and Technical Assistance program, please click here.