On June 30, Gov. Peter Shumlin celebrated a law that guarantees access to pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds in Vermont. The law, which the governor signed in 2014, went into effect July 1 and will ensure all Vermont kids have access to pre-k this coming school year. Vermont is the first state in America to guarantee access to pre-k for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
The law, Act 166, requires communities to offer at least 10 hours per week of high-quality, publicly funded pre-kindergarten education for 35 weeks annually to all “prekindergarten children.” Qualified pre-kindergarten programs include those operated by community programs, public schools, private early education and care programs, and Head Start.
After passage of Act 166, a third of Vermont’s school districts moved forward with implementation, even though the law allowed them until this year to begin that process. As a result, Act 166 has increased access to programs for parents and the number of children in state-funded pre-k by 1,079.
“Universal pre-k is a win for children, taxpayers, working families, and employers,” Gov. Shumlin said. “We all know that preparing children to enter elementary school ready to learn is one of the best ways to set up our next generation for success and avoid costly interventions later in life.”
Benefits of the law
Parents who work in towns outside their home communities can access pre-k for their young children closer to their jobs.
Parents now have access to up to $3,000 of tuition reimbursement for each of their children.
Employers will have a quality workforce in the future, as this state policy helps attract young talent who seek jobs in a family-friendly state.
Low-income children who have attended a pre-kindergarten program are more likely to be ready for kindergarten.