Competencies and Standards

Professional competencies and standards define the skills and knowledge required by those working in the early childhood and afterschool fields.  Because of the profound impact professionals have on the children and families they work with, professional quality matters.

Competence is always developing.  It develops from experience, coursework, effective supervision or mentoring and reflective practice.

Professional standards and competencies are used:

  • as the self- assessment in an IPDP (Individual Professional Development Plan)
  • to provide common expectations and language
  • as the framework for early childhood career ladder and afterschool career pathways
  • to plan and assess professional development activities and curricula
  • as the foundation of a credential
  • to develop job descriptions and performance evaluations
  • to structure supervision, mentoring and job descriptions

Vermont’s professional development system is based on the following competencies and standards:



In addition to professional competencies and standards, there are program standards and learning standards/guidelines for children.  Together, like interdependent gears, these help us measure our quality and define our goals.

Professional competencies and standards are the foundation of quality in a professional development system. They are relevant to many positions such as teacher, director, assistant, home visitor, coordinator, volunteer, provider, home-visitor, or paraprofessional.  They apply to those working in schools, childcare centers, community-based organizations, child care homes, recreation programs, and more.

As workers become professionals in the early childhood and afterschool fields, it is essential that they know and follow the ethical standards of the profession.  Ethical conduct is a key competency of professionals.