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Vt. leads nation in universal pre-k

July 11, 2016
AccessState & LocalUniversal and Targeted
Lisa Rathke
Rutland Herald

Vermont has become the first state to provide publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs to all 3- and 4-year-olds as of this month, state officials say. 

The law requires Vermont communities to offer at least 10 hours a week of free, high quality preschool for 35 weeks per year to children in that age group. Previously, some districts offered publicly funded preschool voluntarily. 

The 10 hours of free preschool has helped parents, like those whose children attend Annette’s Preschool, in Hinesburg.

Adam Charlton and his wife wanted their then-4-year-old son, Oliver, to be in a school-like environment before he entered kindergarten. But, they said they couldn’t have afforded it without the extra help. 

“He learned a lot,” Charlton said. “It’s a great program and I’m super glad the state decided to pass that law. It’s definitely helpful.” 

The office of Gov. Peter Shumlin says more than 70 percent of Vermont children under age 6 have working parents, so universal pre-K is critical to supporting working families.