How Preschool Works in Vermont

Takeaway: In Vermont, Center-based care follows standard licensing regulations, requiring caregivers to have a degree in early childhood development, and to complete 12 hours of annual training each year. Home-based care requires providers to be registered. Vermont’s facility search is robust, allowing users to filter by location, special services, quality, and more. Though the state’s universal pre-K program has been delayed one year, Vermont has made great strides in providing public early childhood education, and one-third of schools will be introducing pre-K programs during the 2015–2016 school year.

Overview

Overall, Vermont’s child care regulations are not very clear. The state’s licensing standards are not listed clearly and with priority, thus making it difficult to understand the different kinds of licensed programs and applicable licensing standards. Most licensing standards are also very broad and fail to make clear what distinguishes the different types of licensed programs.

That said, Vermont has a robust database search, which filters by town, program type, age, special services, and quality level. Detailed results provide contact information, capacity, program description, age range, and quality assessment.

In terms of public access to early education opportunities, Vermont does better than most states. In fact, Vermont is one of the latest states to implement universal pre-K. Starting in the 2016–2017 school year, all 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children will be eligible to receive at least ten hours of pre-K per week for 35 weeks of the year. Originally, the mandate was to be implemented for the 2015–2016 school year, but there were “challenges with rule making and school budget processes.”

Despite this unexpected setback, one-third of schools are ready to introduce universal pre-K ahead of schedule, and 80 percent of school districts already offer some form of pre-K.

Center-Based Care

Any licensed program must meet minimum health, safety, and program standards. Center-based programs can take place in any approved location. These generally have larger group sizes. At least two providers are required, and programs must follow acceptable caregiver-to-child ratios. These are: 1:4 for children ages 6 weeks to 23 months, 1:5 for children ages 24 to 35 months, and 1:10 for children ages 3 to kindergarten.

Teachers and directors are required to possess college degrees in early childhood development, and they must complete 12 hours of annual professional development training. At least one staff member is required to be infant-CPR and first-aid certified, and all staff are required to complete CPR training.

Home-Based Care

Registered family child care homes operate in the provider’s home and offer care to smaller group sizes. No more than six children over the age of 6 are allowed, with up to two under age 2 permitted.

Family care homes follow less strict regulations — providers are only required to be over 18 years of age and of sound mind and body — but still face regulatory oversight and are subject to inspection.

Unlicensed Care

Legal exemption is granted to programs in which a single provider cares for the children of only one or two families. The provider is often a friend, nanny, or another parent.

Discover Vermont preschools near you using the free Noodle preschool search, the most comprehensive tool of its kind.