by Sonja Raymond
This historic bill is part of a comprehensive three-year plan to create an early care and education system that is equitable, affordable, accessible, high-quality, accountable and sustainable.
The passage of H.171 into law in year one provides the funding for intentional pathways, resources and studies needed to create this system over the next two years. In many cases, VTAEYC holds existing resources to advance this system.
VTAEYC is Vermont’s professional association for early childhood educators and has been facilitating the work towards advancing early childhood education (ECE) as a profession for the past three and a half years. The workforce, stakeholders, research, and our experience agree: The quality of ECE programs depend on having a consistent, well qualified, and well compensated workforce.
Support from the start
Our goal is for the Vermont workforce to have access to a full suite of resources that build a supportive, affordable path from entry into the profession through teacher licensure and additional qualifications. The $300,000 for scholarships in H.171 will allow us to expand our TEACH scholarships to include Bachelor degrees (along with currently offered scholarships toward Apprenticeship, Associate degrees, and Teacher Licensure), creating that full continuum. This funding also allows VTAEYC to serve educators who will need or want to increase their qualifications.
VTAEYC’s Pre-Apprenticeship program for high school students in technical centers interested in ECE is one key component to building a desperately needed pipeline. $100,000 has been added to the budget bill specifically to allow this program to continue and expand.
H.171 adds another $400,000 for prospective scholarships to support current college students studying early childhood education. This new prospective scholarship program will complement VTAEYC’s suite of scholarship and pipeline options for the current and future workforce, and it seems likely that VTAEYC would apply to administer the program.
CCFAP and fair compensation
Programs must be able to charge the true cost of services in order to fairly compensate early childhood educators. For more than a decade, VTAEYC has advocated to redesign the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP) to address the interrelated issues of affordability for families and fair compensation for educators. H.171 lays out the path for this redesign. Fair compensation will motivate the current workforce to pursue credentials and degrees, and improve recruitment and retention.
Nothing about us without us
Studies on financing and ECE system infrastructure are embedded in H.171. VTAEYC will work with statewide partners to ensure that the voices of the workforce, essential early childhood education experts, and VTAEYC’s membership are elevated and amplified within these study groups. This is key to advancing ECE as a profession.