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Characteristics of Approved Universal Prekindergarten Programs in Vermont in 2018/19

Region:
Northeast & Islands
Description:

In an effort to increase access to high-quality prekindergarten (preK) programs for all of Vermont’s young children, Vermont passed universal preK legislation in 2014 (Act 166). All 3- and 4-year-old children have access to 10 hours a week of state-funded preK through a mixed-delivery system of public school and private programs. Families can enroll their children at no cost in any approved preK program across the state regardless of location. To better understand the characteristics of universal preK programs related to program availability, program quality, and family choice, Vermont partnered with the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands to describe the characteristics of preK programs overall and separately for private and public school programs and programs located in local education agencies with different population sizes and poverty levels. The study found that in 2018/19, fewer than 50 percent of programs were at capacity, with more private programs and more programs in high-poverty local education agencies at capacity, raising questions about the availability of preK programs in high-poverty areas. Local education agencies at different population sizes and poverty levels had programs of similar quality within their boundaries, suggesting that Act 166, as enacted, allows for an equitable preK system for families living in rural and low-income areas of the state as it relates to program quality. The results also suggest that the current ability of families to access preK in locations other than their local education agency of residence must be retained if Vermont is to maximize availability of preK for families living in local education agencies that have few—sometimes only one—preK programs. Private programs reported being open more hours per day and weeks per year than public school programs, which may reduce the need for transitions throughout the day and year for children in private programs who need additional child care beyond the 10 hours per week of universal preK.

Publication Type:
Descriptive Study
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
February 2021