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VTAEYC News: Update on the Act 76 Pre-K Implementation Committee

By Sharron Harrington

I am a member of Vermont’s Pre-Kindergarten Education Implementation Committee representing VTAEYC, and I want to let you know how it’s going.

The Committee was created through Act 76 to assist the Agency of Education (AOE) in “improving and expanding accessible, affordable and high-quality prekindergarten education for four year old children on a full-day basis on or before July 1, 2026.” The committee also includes representatives from the AOE, Agency of Human Services (CDD) , Building Bright Futures, Let’s Grow Kids, VT Head Start Collaborative, Vermont Afterschool, VT Principals Association, VT Superintendents Association, a prekindergarten coordinator, both a family child care and center based UPK partner program, family representatives, and others.

This group is charged with examining and making recommendations to expand access for children by or through the public school system or private early childhood education programs under contract with the school district, or both. To be clear, nothing in Act 76 changes our current mixed-delivery universal pre-K system at this time.

After researching, discussing, and analyzing, the committee will submit a written report on December 1 to the legislature that includes recommendations on necessary changes and considerations, as well as an implementation plan.

I’m pleased to share that our work is proceeding with intentionality and transparency. All committee members are committed to centering what is best for children and to ground decision-making on research of best practices and experiences of the diverse perspectives of the Committee members and stakeholders.

Vermont is nationally recognized for its current universal prekindergarten system and we have the opportunity to build upon that success. We can all agree that providing Vermont’s young children equitable access to high quality prekindergarten education and increasing the number of publicly funded hours is beneficial.

We also agree this change requires significant research and exploration to avoid any unintended negative consequences. To that end, we created work groups to each address core areas of the Committee’s broad scope. They are: System-level Considerations, Capacity & Funding Considerations, and Program Quality Considerations. I am a member of the Program Quality Considerations work group. Each work group member is tasked with bringing research, resources, and stakeholder feedback to our topic exploration.

I encourage you to visit the committee website to see the meeting schedule and learn who sits on the committee and within each workgroup. In compliance with Vermont’s open meeting laws, you may sit in, provide public comment, and review minutes from both work group and full committee meetings.

I am honored to represent VTAEYC’s early childhood educators and early childhood education programs on this committee. I am also proud to represent the principles of developmentally appropriate practice. Please stay engaged and stay in touch as our work continues.

And keep scrolling for a wide array of resources from VTAEYC and our partners – starting with the grace period for recognition bonuses we just announced with the CDD!

Grace Period Open for Professional Recognition Bonuses

The Child Development Division and VTAEYC are excited to announce a temporary grace period for those who have earned an Early Childhood Level Certificate or a Vermont Afterschool Professional Development Certificate/Credential from Northern Lights at CCV since 2018 but didn’t receive a bonus. More than 60 early childhood educators have already applied!

Vermont early childhood and afterschool educators can access an Early Childhood/Afterschool Professional Recognition Bonus for each level they achieve on the Northern Lights at CCV Career Ladder and for achieving qualifying credentials.

Details and application:

Act 76 Resources on Shared Services:
Act 76 Explainer, CCFAP Survey To Share With Families

From First Children’s Finance:

Two new resources help programs communicate with families about Act 76 and changes to the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP). Visit Shared Services VT to find these downloadable resources.

  • The Act 76 Family Communication can be shared directly with families to help them understand what CCFAP is, what’s changing, why programs receive funding before families, and how the program works.
  • The CCFAP Reimbursement Survey offers instructions and a cut-and-paste survey for programs to share with families in order to learn how many of their current families will be impacted by changes to CCFAP. Programs will be able to use this information to plan for the coming year.

VTAEYC’s system partners are working on tools to help communicate Act 76 and CCFAP changes with families, starting with the Child Development Division. VTAEYC will continue to share updates from CDD, First Children’s Finance, Let’s Grow Kids, and others as appropriate.


Programs Respond To SPARQS Experiences

Requesting a program assessment? Here’s how one program described the experience:

“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.”

Requesting coaching or other quality supports? Here’s how another program described the experience:

“Krysta was prepared, informed, and was able to provide really clear guidance as I learned the new STARS application. She also supported me in developing our new program’s orientation.”

In the next SPARQS newsletter we’ll share information about communities of practice, continuing funding for Vermont Early Childhood Networks, and more.

Manage your newsletter preferences here to ensure you get the latest updates from Vermont’s System for Program Access to Resources for Quality Supports (SPARQS).


New Step-by-Step Guide: Applying for Student Loan Repayment Assistance

New resource! For early childhood educators applying for student loan repayment assistance, Specialist Dacia Ostlund provides a step-by-step guide to using the portal on

Eligible early childhood educators may receive $4,000 per year toward their student loans — and previously ineligible educators may receive a $4,000 retroactive payment. Details on


NAEYC Membership Experience to Improve in 2024;
Vote in NAEYC Governing Board Election by March 1

NAEYC CEO Michelle Kang recently sent a message to all NAEYC members highlighting new priorities for 2024, including tech upgrades to make membership simpler and more accessible, revising position statements, expanding professional development, and revamping early learning program accreditation.

See Michelle’s message

VTAEYC+NAEYC Members: Vote in NAEYC’s Governing Board election by March 1. Meet the candidates here. VTAEYC+NAEYC members received voting instructions by email (subject line: Your Vote Decides NAEYC’s Future!)


Child Care Business Administration: Legal and Financial Management

From the Vermont Higher Education Collaborative:

Jen Severance, M.Ed, Business Development Manager at First Children’s Finance, teaches this hands-on, 3-credit course (offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels through Vermont State University).

Each meeting is designed to help early childhood directors and entrepreneurs develop skills, knowledge, resources, and tools for effective legal and financial program management. Sessions will be taught by experts in specific areas of program administration and early childhood education. Four sessions at the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce in Berlin plus online work. April-June; registration is $650.

Learn more and register through the Vermont Higher Education Collaborative.
Tuition assistance is available! Visit

“A Viable Career Choice:”
Read the Op-Ed by Sharron Harrington and Heather Duhamel

Read the statewide op-ed by VTAEYC Executive Director Sharron Harrington and Vermont State University Early Childhood Education Online program director Heather Duhamel:

“Early childhood education is now a viable career choice” in the Brattleboro Reformer

Last Chance to Register: NAEYC Public Policy Forum

February 25-26
Details and registration

NAEYC’s Public Policy Forum on February 25-26. The 2024 Forum emphasizes advocating for and supporting inclusive care for children with disabilities and developmental delays.

Registration is $100 for members. The nonmember fee is $130 and includes an entry-level membership. Vermont’s Team Lead is Beth Wallace, VTAEYC’s Associate Director of ECE Engagement.

This year, register directly through


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