The STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) supports the continuous improvement of early childhood and after school programs in Vermont. Programs that participate in STARS — Vermont’s quality recognition system — are going above and beyond state regulations to provide professional services that meet the needs of children and families. The more stars a program has, the more it is involved in a wide range of practices that support children, families, and professionals. Programs with three, four, or five STARS are designated as high quality.
Data source: Bright Futures Information System
Last updated: September 2018
Updated by: Department for Children and Families
We want to increase the percentage of children receiving child care subsidy attending high quality early childhood programs as part of our efforts to ensure that children are ready for school and Vermonters are free from the impacts of poverty.
The percentage of children receiving child care subsidy who attended high-quality early childhood programs has steadily increased over the past five years, from 28% in FY2010 to 63% in FY2017. This increase can be attributed to Vermont's consistent financial investment in child care subsidy (Child Care Financial Assistance). In FY2017, $46.1 million in child care financial assistance was provided to an average of 8,241 children — helping them access early care & education and after school programs; 70% of these funds was spent on high quality care.
In 2014, Vermont received a $36.9 million federal grant - the Early Learning Challenge - to narrow the opportunity gap between high needs children and their peers before it occurs. This included efforts to improve quality and access of early learning and development opportunities, invest in a highly skilled workforce through professional development, and empower communities to support young children and families. The Early Challenge grant supports quality early experiences to counteract the effects of “toxic stress” so that all children are able to thrive and grow up to contribute to a vibrant economic future for our state.
Ensuring children have access to high-quality early childhood education is a population-level problem. Many partners, including those identified below, have a role to play in improving this population-level indicator for the state of Vermont.
Research shows that high quality early care and education has a demonstrable, positive impact on children’s development, well-being, and school readiness. This is particularly important for children growing up in low-income households, as quality early learning experiences can mitigate the effects of poverty in the short- and long-term.
Source: Center on the Developing Child