Tuition-free degree offer aimed at bolstering workforce development
WINOOSKI– A new program, established by the Vermont Legislature, will offer full tuition to individuals pursuing a degree and career in early childhood or early childhood special education beginning in the fall of 2022.
The $500,000 “Scholarship Program for Prospective Early Childhood Educators” offers an interest-free, forgivable loan and is sponsored by the Vermont Department for Children and Families, Child Development Division and administered by Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC). Awards will be issued to qualifying applicants with financial need seeking an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or early childhood special education.
“One of the most important factors to bolstering Vermont’s workforce development efforts is to increase childcare options so that parents can return to work,” said Scott Giles, president, and CEO of VSAC. “Programs like these are key to helping students pay for their education and directing their talents to areas of vital needs in Vermont.”
The goal of the new funding, organizers say, is to increase the number of degreed educators in the early childhood education and early childhood special education field and reduce staff shortages, leading to improved program quality and stability of the early childhood workforce.
The Early Childhood Educators program is open to both Vermont and non-Vermont students who plan to attend at least half-time at one of the following schools: Community College of Vermont, University of Vermont, Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, Springfield College (online program), Champlain College, Goddard College, or Saint Michael’s College.
Awards are in the form of an interest-free loan which is forgiven when the recipient has completed the following work obligations:
• work for one year for each year they receive funding, and
• Work in a regulated, privately operated center-based child care program or regulated family child care home in Vermont.
Applications for the first round are due May 31, with awards announced by mid-July. Applications will continue to be accepted as long as funding is available. Full details on applying can be found here. If you have any questions, contact VSAC at 888-253-4819 or [email protected].
According to the state’s Dept. of Health website, “In Vermont, almost 13,000 children under the age of three need some form of childcare. Seventy percent of Vermont children under the age of six have both parents in the workforce. High-quality childcare programs help children learn healthy habits and promote healthy behaviors associated with lifelong health. High-quality early experiences promote brain development, socio-emotional skills, and support learning for children so that they will succeed in school.”
In February, the child care advocacy group Let’s Grow Kids issued the Stalled at the Start report looking at the state’s overall availability of child care county-by-county. The report says about 5,000 more spaces are needed for each infant to be able to attend, about 1,000 more toddler spots, and about 2,700 more preschool spaces.
About VSAC – Changing Lives through Education and Training since 1965
Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is a public, nonprofit agency established by the Vermont Legislature in 1965 to help Vermonters achieve their education and training goals after high school. VSAC serves students and their families in grades 7-12, as well as adults returning to school, by providing education and career planning services, need-based grants, scholarships, and education loans. VSAC has awarded more than $600 million in grants and scholarships for Vermont students and also administers Vermont’s 529 college savings plan.