Professional Standards and Competencies

Standards are a way to measure whether we are providing quality services to people.  Standards give us a common way to talk about what we mean by quality and how we know when we reach it.

When we provide care and education and care to children and their families, we are providing a service.  There are three basic parts to any service system:

  • the program that delivers the services;
  • the people who receive the services (children); and
  • the people who  provide the services (professionals).

So, the standards of quality relate to these three parts. Specific documents referenced below, are in the side bar of this page.

Program Standards guide organizations or entities that deliver services. In Vermont we use the child care licensing regulations and the STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) – the program quality and improvement system for regulated early childhood and afterschool programs. Program standards are also set by national organizations that accredit or regulate early childhood and afterschool programs.

Learning Standards measure how children are developing and how responsive we are to meeting their needs. They are used to help plan curriculum, guide learning plans for individual children, and inform families and others about children’s development. The Vermont Early Learning Standards (VELS) are for children ages three to five. First Steps, early learning guidelines for infants and toddlers are under development. The Vermont Agency of Education Common Core and Grade Level Expectations provides a framework of standards and learning opportunities for public school Pre-K through Grade 12.

Professional Standards or Competencies are the foundation of the professional development system. They are used as self- assessment tools, and to guide the development and use of curricula, instruction and credentials. They are the basis of career pathways.