SPRINGFIELD — New state rules that went into effect on Sept. 1 for
child care providers are leading some to close their doors, while others
are working on adapting to the changes. The new regulations governing
child care centers and family providers are requiring that some
individuals go back to school, send their employees into professional
development, or shut down their business.
Alisha Adams, acting
president of the Vermont Child Care Association, said on Thursday, Sept.
15 that she has not surveyed nearby providers and does not have an
exact number of how many are affected.
“But it has been a concern,” she said.
Adams said that she is aware of 11 programs closed in Franklin County, for instance, and a few in the Montpelier area.
“The state is saying they will work with us,” she said.
Adams has been in the childcare business for 23 years, and holds a
master’s degree. She served on the state of Vermont’s rule-making
committee, along with approximately 100 other child care providers,
child care licensors, and other community stakeholders telecommuting
from 12 regions throughout the state, to discuss best practices and
recommendations before the new rules went into effect.
that she feels that many of the public comments from child care
providers during the public hearing sessions “were overlooked.”
The closures are also affecting southeastern Vermont. Rachel Hunter, a
child care provider in Springfield, said on Thursday that 11 child care
programs, including in-home providers, in the Springfield Agency of
Human Services district had closed or become unregulated since Sept. 1
because of the new regulations.That district stretches from Bellows
Falls to Windsor, she said.
“There are centers closing all over the state, too,” she said.
In the Springfield AHS district, this equates to around 100 children
without child care in an area that already had a shortage of childcare
providers, according to Hunter.
In White River Junction area, which is part of the Hartford AHS district, eight providers have closed, she said.
Hunter is a home-based child care provider with 16 years of experience.
She participates in the Springfield Building Bright Futures Regional
Council and serves on an oversight committee for Vermont’s quality
recognition and improvement system for early care and learning programs,
and on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable
The 133 pages of regulations took Vermont from
"having minimal regulations to over-the-top regulations with no
grandfathering or grace periods," she said.
The new regulations
have strict guidelines on the education level required for teachers,
teacher associates, child care providers, teacher aides, trainees and
other types of employees, according to rules published by the Vermont
Agency of Human Services Department for Children and Families.
The regulation manual has gone from a 27-page book to more than 100
pages of new regulations. That has caused concern among some providers
that a lot of the new regulations are not measurable, and has some
providers questioning how the state is going to regulate providers and
enforce the lengthy new set of rules, she said.
On the plus side,
the state is providing a one-year grace period for providers who are
not yet up to compliance. If the state finds someone not in compliance —
only on new rules — it will “give guidance” instead of issuing a
violation, just for that one year, she said.
“So they really are trying to work with us. Vermont wants to be in the higher-quality realm,” Adams said.
However, the resulting closures by individuals who feel they cannot go
back to school or bring their programs up to compliance in the allotted
time is still a big concern, she said. Adams said she has a colleague
who has run a child care for more than 20 years “and has a great
program, but no degree.”
The state will not “grandfather” those without a degree, as it has done in the past, she said.
“Some had to close, and others felt it was just too much,” she said.
She knows of a few providers who will be going back to school, and said
there is educational assistance available for those displaced providers,
but for those already working 60 hours a week “that’s hard,” she said.
Adams said she has spoken with her local legislative representative
about the issue, but that the regulations were already approved and are
now in effect. She also said she wishes the committee had been allotted
more time to go through the lengthy set of new regulations.
good news is that there may be a way to advocate for children’s special
or specific needs, even if they are prohibited by the new regulations,
For example, she knows a parent whose child will only
sleep when swaddled, and due to new rules, the child can no longer be
swaddled, and has not slept at the childcare center for a week as a
For specific needs, Adams said that she recalls from the
rule-making committee that there was initially a provision in which
parents could potentially write a letter requesting exceptions.
“So that may be an angle where we can advocate for parents’ rights,” she said.
Adams said that she would “really push” for parents to act as advocates
on behalf of their children, and contact local legislators to request
exceptions for their children’s individual needs if it appears care
providers would no longer be allowed to meet them.
However, some providers are moving ahead with the regulations as an opportunity to further staff development and credentials.
Heather-Lynn LaPlante, director of Suzy’s Little Peanuts in
Springfield, said she is encouraging more staff to go through
professional development programs in light of the new regulations.
LaPlante said that resources are available through the Community
College of Vermont (CCV) and the Vermont Child Care Industry and Careers
Council (VCCICC), and that she plans to have most of her staff go
through a two year education program offered through those two
With that completed, they would be considered 3(A)
on the early childhood career ladder, which they need to meet the new
requirements, she said.
Also, any staff hired before Aug. 31,
2016 has two years to complete the program. CCV also offers a child care
certificate, and applicants can seek financial assistance through
grants of up to $1,000, according to LaPlante.
“So we have a little leeway,” she said.
Additionally, the executive director of Suzy’s Little Peanuts has set
up a director’s group in the area to provide directors under her
supervision with additional information on the new laws, LaPlante said.
The updated Vermont licensing regulations for center-based child care
and preschool programs, which govern child care facilities, is a
revision of two sets of regulations: Early Childhood Program Licensing
Regulations from February 2001, and Children’s Day Care Licensing
Regulations for Non‐ Recurring Clientele, from October 1996. Combined,
they are known as Center Based Child Care and Preschool Programs.
The combined regulations “create consistency in basic standards for all
center‐based settings and include reasonable accommodations for
specific settings,” according to the regulations booklet. The
regulations include sections on licensing, monitoring, safety, emergency
preparedness, non-discrimination, disease management, parent
communication and background checks, among other aspects.