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Vermont Universal PreK Research Partnership


In 2014, the Vermont Legislature passed Act 166, providing state-funded, universal access to prekindergarten (preK) for 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, and preK 5-year-olds through a mixed-delivery system of public and private providers at no cost to families. The Vermont Universal PreK Research Partnership formed to address research questions that will assist the state in successfully implementing the new universal preK model. The Partnership commenced in the first year (2016/17) of full implementation of universal preK in Vermont (Act 166) and is informing the state’s ongoing policy and practice decisions for the program.


  • Support the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE) and Agency of Human Services (AHS) by conducting research studies and providing research technical support to address questions related to the implementation of universal preK in Vermont.
  • Use research and evidence to inform refinement to regulations of Act 166.
  • Investigate enrollment patterns in state preK and examine the characteristics of approved preK programs.


Clare WatermanDr. Clare Waterman
Research Scientist
REL Northeast & Islands


Research Study: Enrollment Rates of Children in Universal Prekindergarten Programs in Vermont in 2016/17
This study uses data from the first year of implementation of Vermont’s universal preK initiative (2016/17) to understand the characteristics of children enrolled in different preK programs (type and quality rating), the geographic characteristics of the preK programs, and the factors related to enrollment in particular program options (both type and quality rating). Since families may enroll their children in any qualified preK program of their choice, this analysis of enrollment patterns provides important information about how universal preK is being implemented in Vermont to inform future changes and implementation. Learn more.

Research Study: Characteristics of Approved Universal Prekindergarten Programs in Vermont in 2018/19
To better understand program availability, quality, and characteristics related to family choice among universal prekindergarten (preK) programs in Vermont, this study examined the characteristics of approved preK programs overall, public school and private programs separately, and programs in local education agencies with different population sizes and poverty levels. It builds on a previous study on the characteristics of children enrolled in universal preK programs in Vermont in 2016/17 and helps Vermont stakeholders consider requirements for approved preK programs. Learn more

Webinar: Informing Policy: Examining Enrollment Trends in Universal Prekindergarten in Vermont (January 22, 2020)
Vermont passed universal prekindergarten (preK) legislation in 2014 to increase access to high-quality preK programs for all of Vermont’s young children. REL Northeast & Islands partnered with Vermont to explore questions about universal preK enrollment patterns. This webinar presents findings from the resulting study, Enrollment Rates of Children in Universal Prekindergarten Programs in Vermont in 2016/17. Dr. Clare Waterman, senior research associate and alliance lead, engages partners from the Vermont Agency of Education in a discussion around the implications of the study for Vermont, as well as the value of research-practice partnerships in informing state policy. View event details.

Webinar: The Path Forward for the Early Education Workforce: National Policies and Examples from Vermont (October 19, 2017)
Hosted in collaboration with the Early Childhood Workforce Development Research Alliance, this webinar introduces participants to The Early Childhood Workforce Index, a 2016 report that provides the first comprehensive look at early childhood workforce issues and policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Co-author Dr. Caitlin McLean presented specific findings and implications raised by the report. Following this presentation, Vermont early childhood leaders Melissa Riegel-Garrett and Tierney O’Meara discussed their state’s universal prekindergarten initiative and its implications for the state’s early childhood workforce. View event details.


Name Title Organization
Steven Berbeco Deputy Commissioner, Child Development Division, Department for Children and Families (DCF) Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS)
Heather Bouchey Deputy Secretary Vermont Agency of Education (AOE)
Morgan Crossman Executive Director Building Bright Futures
Wendy Geller Director of Analysis and Data Management AOE
Renee Kelly Head Start Collaboration Director, Child Development Division, DCF AHS
Kate Rogers Early Learning Programs Manager AOE
Wendy Scott Universal Prekindergarten Program Manager AOE