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Professional Development Opportunities

Keep checking back for upcoming professional development Opportunities!

Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP)

Your investments of time and expense in professional development will be most effective when you know what you want (and need) to learn, and when you get involved in active learning activities that center on your own interests, needs, and goals. To make the most of the time that any professional has for continuing learning, it is highly advisable to create an Individualized Professional Development Plan, or IPDP.

IPDPs have been an integral part of Vermont’s public education system of teacher licensure for many years, and their application elsewhere in the field of early childhood makes perfect sense. Since no 2 people are identical in their interests, skills, or knowledge, no single plan for professional growth will work for everyone. Instead, the IPDP process offers you, as an individual, an effective means for designing a plan that can guide you toward your own goals.

The IPDP is more of a process than a single document. Guided by a framework for professional development, it becomes a personal plan for improving your knowledge and skills as you address 4 aspects of professional growth – each of which you continue to address, in an ongoing cycle:

  1. Assessing your current interests, knowledge, and skills.
  2. Identifying specific areas for improvement.
  3. Developing strategies and resources.
  4. Creating opportunities to reflect on and demonstrate how you have grown professionally.

The Child Development Associate (CDA)

According to the national CDA Council, early educators who have attained their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential are better able to meet the needs of children, work with parents and other adults, and more generally, nurture children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth in a child development framework.

To date, there are more than 200,000 CDAs in all 50 United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands.

Many view the CDA Credential as an instrument for career advancement in the early childhood care and education profession. In Vermont, a CDA qualifies an early educator for a Level II certificate from the Northern Lights Career Development Center.  For Chittenden County providers who already have their CDA and would like to know how to renew it, click here.

For more information and resources, please contact the CDA council at or 1-800-424-4310.

Fundamentals Course

Fundamental Courses are scheduled through Northern Lights at CCV.   For more information on course offerings through CCV, visit

Support Groups and Associations

Care Provider Groups

Vermont Child Care Providers Association (VCCPA): a state-wide, nonprofit, professional organization offering peer support as well as access to information and resources. Members advocate on the local, state, and national levels to assure that the needs of child care professionals are met. Membership fee is required. To find out more about the VCCPA or to contact them, click here.

Child Care Center Directors: Join a group of Chittenden County child care center directors who are interested in getting together to share ideas, support, and information. For more information or to become a part of this group, call Kara Von Behren at (802) 846-9402.

Local Starting Points Groups: Starting Points Groups offer family child care providers the opportunity to meet with other local providers to discuss issues related to early childhood and school age care, professional development, and news from the files, while also offering peer support. Please contact Colleen Christman at (802) 489-0410.

Vermont Organizations

Included here are groups whose missions are rooted in the child care field and are either unique to Vermont, or are local affiliates of national organizations.

Children’s Integrated Services (CIS): CIS is a resource for pregnant or postpartum women and families with children from birth to age 6. CIS can help: Pregnant or Postpartum Women – If you have questions or concerns about a condition or risk situation that impacts your or your baby’s health or safety; Families – If you have questions or concerns about providing a stable, healthy environment for your children; Children – If you are the parent of a child age 6 or younger, and you have questions or concerns about a suspected developmental delay or condition.

For more information about this program, read the CIS Booklet
Contact: Robyn Suarez

Telephone: (802) 860-4426

Building Bright Futures of Chittenden County: Includes parents, providers, and anyone interested in children. The focus of this group is advocacy efforts on behalf of the early childhood field.

Telephone: (802) 652-5138

Vermont Early Childhood Alliance is a statewide coalition of early childhood professionals, parents, businesses and strategic partners working together to realize the promise of every Vermont child.

Northern Lights Career Development Center: Child Care Resource aligns professional development opportunities with Level I and Level II of the Northern Lights Career Development Center’s Core Competencies for Early Childhood and Afterschool Professionals. Please visit the Northern Lights Career Development Center’s website for information on Core Competencies, Level I, and Level II curriculum and other information pertaining to professional growth.

Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VAEYC): a statewide professional organization for early childhood professionals. (NAEYC Affiliate).

Voices for Vermont’s Children: a statewide nonprofit organization that works on various children’s issues, including early care and education.

Telephone: (802) 229-6377
Website: Voices for Vermont Kids

Vermont Afterschool: An organization for those interested in quality experiences for school age children.

Telephone: (802) 448-3464

National Organizations

Many of these national organizations have local affiliates in Vermont. Let us know which organizations you have found to be helpful!

Children’s Defense Fund (CDF): a national children’s advocacy organization.

Telephone: (202) 628-8787

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): a national professional organization for early childhood professionals. Offers a center based accreditation process.

Telephone: 1-800-424-2460

National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC): a national organization that provides support, information, and accreditation for those providing or interested in family child care.

Telephone: 1-800-359-3817

National School Age Care Alliance (NSCA): a national organization that gathers local networks of care providers under one national umbrella, bringing together their collective wisdom and experience. Offers accreditation for school age programs.

Telephone: (617) 298-5012

Redleaf National Institute: The Institute’s National Center for the Business of Family Child Care helps providers successfully manage their businesses.

Telephone: (651) 641-6675

Center for Career Development in Early Care and Education – Wheelock College: The Center strives to improve the quality of early care and education by creating viable career development systems for practitioners.

Telephone: (617) 734-5200
Website: Wheelock College Career Development

Child Care Law Center: works exclusively on legal issues concerning the establishment and provision of child care.

Telephone: (415) 495-5498
Website: Child Care Law Center

The Children’s Foundation: conducts research and provides information and training on federal food programs, quality child care, leadership development, health care, and enforcement of court-ordered child support. Website: The Children’s Foundation

Families and Work Institute: committed to developing new approaches toward balancing the changing needs of America’s families.

Telephone: (212) 465-2044

National Child Care Association: a trade association that represents the private, licensed early childhood community.

Telephone: 1-800-543-7161
Website: National Child Care Association

National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care: seeking to enhance the quality of child care by supporting state and local health departments, child care regulatory agencies, child care providers, and parents in their effort to promote health and safety in child care.

Telephone: 1-800-598-KIDS
Website: National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Children

National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST): works to improve the quality and quantity of school-age child care programs through collaborative work.

Telephone: (617) 283-2547
Website: NIOST

Accreditation, Quality Recognition, & Credentials

Parents looking for child care are more attracted to accredited child care programs and providers with advanced credentials. Studies show that not only is the quality of care higher in these programs, but the child care givers are typically more satisfied with their work. These programs and providers may also be eligible for additional subsidy and grant programs, and in many cases are able to charge higher fees for the care.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Center Accreditation

The NAEYC Accreditation sets the standard in our industry for quality center-based care. A high quality child care center is defined as one that meets the needs of and promotes the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of the children and adults – parents, staff, and administrators – who are involved in the program. The Accreditation process involves 4 steps: Enrollment, Application, Candidacy, and Meet and Maintain the Standards.

For more information contact:
or call 1-800-424-2460.

You may also contact the Vermont AEYC Facilitated Accreditation program for support. Locally, call Shelley Henson at (802) 862-9622.

National Association for Family Child Care Accreditation

The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) accredits family child care homes that offer high quality child care services. The purpose of the Accreditation is to offer professional recognition and consumer distinction to those providers who meet these high standards of quality child care through their consistency and dedication. The Accreditation is intended for those providers who not only meet the child care standards defined by state licensing and registration agencies, but have demonstrated a commitment to reach beyond these minimum requirements to achieve standards of excellence.

For more information contact:
or call 1-800-359-3817.

Step Ahead Recognition System (STARS)

STARS is Vermont’s quality recognition system for child care, preschool, and afterschool programs. Programs that participate in STARS are stepping ahead – going above and beyond state regulations to provide professional services that meet the needs of children and families.

The Child Development Division contracts with coordinators to administer STARS and provide technical assistance to applicants.

If you have any questions about STARS or the application process, contact the STARS coordinators at (802) 388-2853 or Or you may call the Child Development Division at 1-800-649-2642.

Child Development Associate (CDA)

The CDA is a nationally recognized credential for both center based and family child care providers. This on-the-job program recognizes the skills of the experienced provider and gives additional training to the new provider. Individuals in Vermont with a CDA may qualify for Director or staff positions in a center. Family Child Care providers become more attractive to parents looking for care and therefore are able to charge slightly higher rates for that care. Providers also qualify to receive a bonus through the Child Development Division upon achieving their CDA credential.


Vermont Child Care Apprenticeship Program

This program offers caregivers the chance to apprentice in an accredited program under the supervision of an experienced, trained mentor. You will take college level courses, receive on the job training and an increase in your salary as you move through this program. Funded through a grant from the United States Department of Labor and the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, its purpose is to create a supply of stable, high quality child care programs.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, call Sue Ryan at (802) 660-2914.

Northern Lights Career Development

Northern Lights Career Development has created many credentials for early childhood and school age care practitioners.