SPARQS Update: Request Coaching, Consultation, or an Assessment

By Victoria Ward

Earlier this month, the SPARQS team presented to Building Bright Futures (see the slides here!). Now that SPARQS is up and running, it’s exhilarating to see how much we’ve built, and to see our work shaping positive systems change, since we began rolling out this new system six months ago.

We are actively processing programs’ requests for coaching, scored assessments, and unscored assessments (or consultations). We’ve had more than 200 total requests! I want to share what programs are saying. A lot of people tell us they are nervous before their Program Assessor or Quality Support Specialist visits — and then, they’re relieved. And not just relieved, but supported, excited, and looking ahead.

Many tell us this is the system we’ve all been waiting for. As one respondent said, I am really excited about the changes coming up. I feel like this is the direction that we need to be going in to increase quality for children and families.

See below for more testimonials, and request an assessment, consultation, or coaching support for your program today.

Not sure what you need? You can ask a questions without going through a request portal or process. Any early childhood educator in Vermont can ask the SPARQS team a question via our “warm line” and receive a response within three business days.

Finally, I’m excited to let you know about a Community of Practice we are developing with the CDD and Northern Lights, coming up later this spring. More on that below.

We are all really excited to be at this stage! Stay tuned for more — and invite others in your teaching communities to stay involved by visiting our website and subscribing to our SPARQS newsletter.

Coming Up: Community of Practice

Saturday, April 6: A Community of Practice will be co-facilitated by the STARS office at CDD and the SPARQS team. Programs will come out of this Community of Practice with a CDD-approvable CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) plan for the STARS level they want to receive. Family child care providers and center based providers are both encouraged to join. Participants will receive professional development hours through Northern Lights.

Stay tuned for details! This Community of Practice will be on the Northern Lights training calendar and announced through VTAEYC.

Contact the SPARQS Warm Line

Not sure if your program needs a scored or unscored assessment? Curious about joining a Vermont Early Childhood Network? Or have any other questions related to SPARQS?

We answer questions from individual early childhood educators within three business days. Contact us on our “warm line.” (tip – it’s!)

Additional Funding for VECNs

Early in February, each region received an additional SPARQS Stipend of $1,000 to continue Vermont Early Childhood Network activities while the VECN component of SPARQS is finalized and rolls out.

Vermont Early Childhood Networks are an important component of SPARQS. When this component is ready to roll out, networks can anticipate individualized resources, tailoring supports to each region’s needs and interests. Look for more information in future SPARQS updates and on

What Programs Say About SPARQS

A visit from a Program Assessor or Quality Support Specialist may seem intimidating at first. But SPARQS team members are trained to give programs a positive experience. Here’s what programs say about their experience with assessments and coaching supports:

The overall experience with our assessor was nerve-wracking in the beginning but we were quickly put at ease. Nikki was able to blend into the environment with a warm energy that allowed the team to respond naturally, which is the ultimate goal of the overall assessment.

Abby was kind and considerate during her whole visit, bringing indoor shoes and introducing herself to everyone

Not actually knowing what was going to happen was very frightening for me. When Brenda came to the door I immediately felt a relief as she was Extremely Friendly And my fears quickly passed.

Krysta was prepared, informed, and was able to provide really clear guidance as I learned the new STARS application.

This was really helpful to talk with you and I will be telling my friends [other FCCH] to call you too.

We haven’t had many resources up here [Franklin County]. It feels exciting that we have someone who is accessible, who can answer questions, offer support, and actually come into our programs!

The SPARQS team has received more than 130 requests for assessments, and more than 65 requests for coaching and consultation. See below to request an assessment or quality supports for your program!

Request Coaching and Quality Supports

Coaching and quality supports are now available to programs statewide! Our Intake Portal will be live soon. Before the portal goes live, you can request quality supports using this survey. Brenda Metzler will respond to you with a needs assessment, and then your Quality Support Specialist will contact you.

Request Quality Supports
Access Self-Directed Resources From Shared Services
Request Coaching From Vermont Afterschool

Schedule a Program Assessment

All registered early childhood education programs and afterschool programs can schedule STARS program assessments through the SPARQS portal. Scored and unscored assessments are both available. These assessments will help you become familiar with the CLASS assessment tool and develop a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) plan.

Programs will remain at the same STARS level during the pilot revision year (through June 30, 2024), so scored assessments will have no impact on your STARS level.

SPARQS Portal for STARS Assessment Request

Keep in mind:
Assessments are scheduled based on a priority rubric. Programs with the closest renewal dates and the greatest need are scheduled first. This is aligned with SPARQS’ commitment to equity.

Keep in mind:
SPARQS and STARS are different. Visit our SPARQS webpage here. Visit the Child Development Division’s STARS page here.

SPARQS Updates and Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to your questions, and don’t miss a thing. Subscribe to make sure you get all SPARQS updates:

Subscribe Me For SPARQS Updates

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