Early Childhood Career Ladder: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the ANSWERS to the QUESTIONS you ask about the Career Ladder:

DO I NEED TO START AT LEVEL I?  No.  You can apply for any level for which you meet the requirements.  Applications for each level are in the side bar of the  Career Ladder page.  Level IIIB and IVB and VB are each a different level with their own certificate and potential Recognition Bonus.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET MY LEVEL CERTIFICATE?  Plan on a month after the date you send your application to Northern Lights for it to appear in your BFIS Credential Account under “Certificates”.  If we have a question or cannot process your certificate, we will email you at the address you provided on your application. Please check your SPAM!  We will send your completed certificate to the Child Development Division to sign and mail, so plan on a few weeks after you see the certificate in your account, for it to arrive in your mail box.

WHERE’S THE MONEY?  Vermont AEYC (VT Association for the Education of Young Children) issues a Recognition Bonus to those who earn a Career Ladder certificate and meet additional requirements.  Funding for this is from the Child Development Division (CDD) and the criteria to award the bonus has not changed.  Learn more about the Recognition Bonus from the Child Development Division .  The CDD Recognition Bonus  increases as you move up the Career Ladder.  To speed the process, complete the  W9 tax form and submit it with your Level application- we’ll pass it on to VTaeyc.  If you have questions about the Recognition Bonus contact Brenda Schramm at 802-379-7267 or email: Brenda.schramm@vaeyc.org 

Here is the process:  1) Northern Lights creates your certificate and enters it into your BFIS Credential account under “Certificates”.  2) We send t he certificate to the Child Development Division to sign and mail to you.  3) We send your application with our findings to VTaeyc for them to determine if you are eligible for a Recognition Bonus.  4) After the VTaeyc approves your recognition bonus, they change the listing in your  BFIS credential account (under the Certificate tab)  to “yes” for bonus. Expect to get your check from them a few weeks after that.

HOW DOES MY CAREER LADDER CERTIFICATE COUNT FOR STARS, AND PROGRAM LICENSING REQUIREMENTS FOR STAFF?  See a comparison of how these plus the CDD Recognition Bonus all align in one chart HERE.

WILL MY COLLEGE CREDITS COUNT?  All college credits and degrees must be from an accredited college or university.  Courses with a grade of C- or higher, or transfer  credit (including assessed prior learning) are acceptable.   We only accept transcripts as verification of college credit and degrees.  Transcripts must be originally issued by the college registrar. You will need to request this from the registrar. We can accept a readable copy of that transcript either as a PDF (scan) or paper copy. We will not accept a fax or photo of a transcript. To learn which credits count to meet child care licensing regulations and Career Ladder requirements, see answers to questions about RELATED CREDITS , RELATED FIELDS  and CORE KNOWLEDGE AREAS below.

WHAT ARE RELATED FIELDS? Related Fields refer to degrees with a major or concentration in: Early Childhood, Child or Human Development, Education (early childhood or elementary or special education), or Child and Family Studies (including Home Economics when it relates to child development and families).

WHAT ARE RELATED CREDITS?   Related Credits are college courses whose content clearly  falls under a Core Knowledge Area (see list below) and relates to working with children between the ages of birth to grade three, and their families.  HERE  is a basic list of college courses that are considered Related Credits. Starred* courses also meet additional regulations for program directors. Here is a tracking tool  to help you list the courses you have by the Core Knowledge Area- and see where you could fall on the Career Ladder.

WHAT ARE THE CORE KNOWLEDGE AREAS THAT MY CREDITS SHOULD ALIGN WITH?  VT Early Childhood Core Knowledge areas include: Child Development; Families and Communities; Observation and Assessment; Healthy, Safe Environments and Good Nutrition; Curriculum – How and What we teach children; Professionalism;  and Program Organization. See VT Early Childhood Core Knowledge and Competencies for details.

IS MY TEACHER LICENSE RECOGNIZED on the Career Ladder?   A teacher license from the VT  Agency of Education with an endorsement in early childhood,  early childhood special education or elementary education is recognized at Level IV and V of the early childhood Career Ladder.  A Provisional license is not recognized.  The VTaeyc awards a Recognition Bonus of $500 for teacher licensure  if the certificate holder has met the Recognition Bonus criteria and holds a current VT Agency of Education teacher license with early childhood/early childhood special education endorsement. As of June 2016, there is no longer a recognition bonus issued for an Elementary Education teacher endorsement.

WHAT IS AN IPDP? A current Individual Development Plan (IPDP) is required for every Level and Credential application. Your IPDP must be updated or created within the past 3 months.

WILL MONTESSORI OR WALDORF CERTIFCATION COUNT? Starting in February 2015, professionals working in Montessori or Waldorf accredited programs, who also have a Montessori or Waldorf certification,  may be able to count those training hours toward a Level Certificate, if they also have a college degree, even if it is not related to early childhood education. Learn more.

WHAT EXPERIENCE COUNTS? Experience means working with groups of children birth through grade 3 as a paid professional or a consistent and regularly scheduled trainee (as in student teaching).   The children served are not family members.  Level II – V requires work in regulated child care or public school  in VT or another state. Experience may be part-time or full time and need not be continuous- but cannot be occasional substitute work.  As of February 2015, students who have gained experience by working in a regulated early childhood program as part of their high school technical center program, may count this experience as part of their Career Ladder application.  Learn more.  This and all experience  is verified by Northern Lights staff.

HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO JOBS? The Career Advising Guide shows how different jobs in various settings fit into the Early Childhood Career Ladder.  The Child Development Division (CDD) child care program regulations (see section 7) align the roles in regulated child care programs (teacher assistant, teacher associate, teacher, etc.) with the Early Childhood Career Ladder. Program Directors also need to meet additional criteria.  Always check with your employer to make sure you are meeting the program’s job requirements.