VTAEYC News: The Numbers Tell A Story

By Sharron Harrington

Dear colleagues,

I want to appreciate Vermont lawmakers for several years of legislation supporting early childhood educators – even before passing Act 76 last year.

One example is the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program for Early Childhood Educators: this program, administered by VTAEYC, was created in 2021 and extended under Act 76. Since it launched, we’ve distributed nearly $850,000 to early childhood educators to reduce their education debt.

I also appreciate policymakers in state government for smart and responsive financial programs. We’ve seen a surge of more than 175 early childhood educators applying for Recognition Bonuses. There is usually a two-year limit on applying for a Level Certificate once you complete your training, but the CDD has generously partnered with us to provide a temporary grace period back to 2018.

The numbers tell a story. What have we learned?

1. Vermont has a highly trained early childhood education workforce! Many more early childhood educators have degrees than were previously known.

2. Vermont’s higher ed programs that offer degree programs and coursework in early childhood education are vital to continue training and growing our essential workforce.

3. Act 76 sets the stage for future wage increases, but right now, early childhood educator salaries still don’t line up with the cost of earning a qualifying degree. Until they do, resources like these are necessary to retaining our skilled workforce.

We’re grateful for programs that make a difference for our early childhood educators. And we will continue to advocate for fair compensation for the highly skilled work early childhood educators do every day.

Learn more and apply for Student Loan Repayment Assistance and/or for a Recognition Bonus

SPARQS Portal Makes Requests Easier

The SPARQS Portal for requesting coaching and quality support services is now live!

The portal is designed to make your experience of accessing quality supports and program assessments more seamless and easy to use than ever. Try it out here or visit vtaeyc.org/sparqs.

Already have a VTAEYC account? Great! Sign into the portal using the email address and password you created when you originally signed up.

Visit The SPARQS Portal

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).

Week of the Young Child is April 6-12!
Congratulations 2024 Mini-Grant Recipients

Get ready! The annual Week of the Young Child celebrates early learning, young children, and their teachers, families, and communities. Themed days connect joyful learning with lifelong skill building and connection.

VTAEYC is pleased to continue our tradition of offering our members mini-grants to support Week of the Young Child programming. The 2024 mini-grant recipients are:

Lamoille North SU (member: Carrie Bullard)
Saxtons River Montessori School (member: Maeve Sabine)
St Paul’s PreKindergarten (member: Joanne Beloin)
Maple Leaf Children’s Center (member: Sheila Bedi)
ABC and LOL Child Care Center and Preschool (member: Taylor Brink)

Find #WOYC2024 resources at naeyc.org and see VTAEYC’s playlist of Week of the Young Child videos on Youtube.


New Advancing as a Profession Resources

New, easy-to-use resources to strengthen our professional identity and understand how this initiative aligns with Act 76:

1. We continue to strengthen our professional identity as early childhood educators and our work as early childhood education. This printable, fill-in-the-blank, flyer is a bright, friendly way to remind your community what you want your program to be called – and why our professional identity matters.

2. Access the “Who We Are and What We Do” toolkit – the companion to our current professional development offering on communicating our professional identity. To request a professional development workshop for your program, contact Rachel Hunter.

3. How does Act 76 support an early childhood education profession? What does the new law do – and not do? This new one-pager offers a quick, easy to understand overview.

Access more resources for advancing early childhood education as a profession here.


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).

Learn more and register through the Vermont Higher Education Collaborative.
Tuition assistance is available! Visit vtaeyc.org/grants-bonuses.

#NAEYCPPF Update: Vermont Advocates
Meet with Staff of Sen. Welch, Sen. Sanders

After 2024’s virtual NAEYC Public Policy Forum, Vermont advocates were grateful for the opportunity to meet virtually with the staff of Sen. Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Together, we discussed the crucial need for robust and flexible investments in child care, as well as supporting workforce development and higher education pathways. We are working to schedule a meeting with Rep. Becca Balint’s team – and in the meantime, Rep. Balint invited early childhood education leader Chloe Learey, executive director of Winston Prouty Center, to the State of the Union address.

Our congressional delegation’s commitment to addressing these vital issues is truly commendable. Thank you for listening, advocating, and taking action to ensure a brighter future for Vermont’s families.

Photo of smiling individuals having a constructive and appreciative meeting over video confrence

Top left: VTAEYC Board member Danny Sawtelle, VTAEYC’s Beth Wallace, Northshire Day School executive director Laurie Metcalfe.
Bottom left: Sen. Sanders staffer Iris Hinh (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee), VTAEYC’s Sarah Gagne and Brenda Schramm.

Vermont Early Childhood Network Trainings

These in-person Vermont Early Childhood Networks (VECN) trainings are open to members of all VECNs. If you are not currently a VECN member, please email info@vtaeyc.org to be connected with your local network.


Addison County

Reflective Supervision Workshop Series: Please join us for a four-part workshop series to help you cultivate your skills as a supervisor. You will learn about supervisory frameworks and tools, share ideas and learn from your colleagues, and consider practical ways that you can put what you learn into action right away!

Dates and times:
Thursday, March 14, 1-3 PM: Recognizing and Appreciating Staff
Wednesday, May 1, 1-3 PM: Critical Conversations
Wednesday, September 4, 1-3: Managing Change
Wednesday, October 2, 1-3: Topic TBD

Click here for more information and to register.


Lamoille County 

Emerging Language for Infants and Toddlers: An infant’s brain is ingeniously structured for language. When an infant is three months old, her brain can distinguish several hundred different spoken sounds. Over the next several months, her brain will organize itself more efficiently so that it only recognizes those sounds that are part of the language she regularly hears.

This inspiring presentation investigates brain development, Baby Signs, best ways to talk with young children, as well as discussions on Restrictive vs. Responsive Language and Open-Ended Questions. Wondering how young children learn language is the center of the exciting session.

Date: Saturday, March 16
Time: 8:00 AM-12:30 PM

Click here for more information and to register.

Upcoming Dates from VTAEYC and Partners

Registration open: Early Childhood Day at the Legislature, April 10

Registration open: NAEYC Professional Learning Institute, New Orleans, June 2-5

Save the Date: Vermont Child Care Providers Association Annual Conference, September 21

Save the Date: Vermont Afterschool Annual Conference, October 24+25

Save the Date: VTAEYC Annual Conference, October 28+29