From the Act:
As of July 1, 2016, Act 166 is in effect in Vermont to provide access to two years of publicly-funded prekindergarten for Vermont children ages 3 and 4, or up to 5 years of age and not yet enrolled in kindergarten. According to the act, no fewer than 10 hours of prekindergarten education will be provided across 35 weeks annually. Public funds may be utilized for a preschool child to attend a preapproved prekindergarten program in a public elementary school, Head Start, or a private early care or educational provider, provided that these entities are located in a predetermined “prekindergarten region” as stipulated by the act and set by the Agency of Education and Human Services.
The Secretarys of the Agency of Education and the Agency of Human Services will share approval and monitoring of prekindergarten programs. Each preapproved program must have a licensed educator who is endorsed in early childhood education or early childhood special education. This licensed educator may be employed by the provider, be a consultant, or, in some cases, serve as a supervisor to ensure that children are provided with developmentally appropriate experiences that align with Vermont’s early learning standards. Each program will also be accredited by either the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or by Vermont’s Department of Children and Families STARS system, having earned at least four stars. There is a process for approval for programs having received three stars if a plan is set in place to gain a four or five star rating within two years.
The school district in which the child lives will pay the tuition costs regardless if the funds are applied toward its own preapproved program, a private preapproved program, or a preapproved program in another district for services provided within the academic year. The tuition will be set at a statewide rate, possibly adjusted regionally. This rate will be established yearly by the Agency of Education and Agency of Human Services.
From the News:
According to a press release from the Governor’s office, more than 70 percent of pre-school children in Vermont have both parents in the workforce.
Rebecca Holcombe, Secretary of the Agency of Education, states in the Vermont Digger that a 2013-14 study “showed that children who went to pre-K were more prepared to learn in kindergarten.” She states that children from low income families who have access to universal prekindergarten are up to “55 percent probability of readiness” for kindergarten, where those who do not attend Pre-K education showed a 30 percent probability.
Hal Cohen, secretary for the Agency of Human Services, says that he views the “pre in pre-K as short for ‘prevention.’”
Language development and literacy are geared toward school readiness in Vermont’s Early Learning Standards and through Act 166.