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Searching 2021-2022 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 33: Human Services

Chapter 035: CHILD CARE

  • Subchapter 001: CHILD CARE FACILITIES
  • § 3501. Division of Child Development; duties

    The Division of Child Development shall:

    (1) encourage the development of a comprehensive child care services system that promotes the wholesome growth and educational development of children;

    (2) facilitate the development of child care facilities;

    (3) encourage and promote the provision by child care providers of parenting education, developmentally appropriate activities, and primary prevention services;

    (4) facilitate cooperation between the private and public sectors to promote the expansion of child care services;

    (5) promote continuing study of child care needs and the most effective methods by which these needs can be served through governmental and private programs;

    (6) coordinate activities of the Division with other State agencies serving children and families;

    (7) strive to make the State a model employer by encouraging it to offer a variety of child care benefit options to its employees;

    (8) provide training for child care providers;

    (9) support resource and referral services for parents and providers; and

    (10) promote the involvement of businesses and communities in the development of child care services throughout the State by providing technical assistance to providers and potential providers of child care services. (Added 1967, No. 147, § 5; amended 1971, No. 181 (Adj. Sess.); 1973, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 23, eff. April 14, 1974; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 61, eff. May 20, 2014.)

  • § 3502. Child care facilities; school age care in public schools; 21st Century Fund

    (a) Unless exempted under subsection (b) of this section, a person shall not operate a child care facility without a license or operate a family child care home without registration from the Department.

    (b) The following persons are exempted from the provisions of subsection (a) of this section:

    (1) a person providing care for children of not more than two families other than that of the person providing the care;

    (2) a hospital or establishment holding a license issued by the Department of Health or a person operating a program primarily for recreational or therapeutic purposes, unless the hospital, establishment, or person provides services for the care, protection, and supervision of children not incidental to its primary purpose, in which case subsection (a) of this section shall apply to those nonincidental additional services;

    (3) child care facilities operated by religious organizations for the care and supervision of children during or in connection with religious services or church sponsored activities;

    (4) [Repealed.]

    (5) an after-school program that serves students in one or more grades from kindergarten through secondary school, that receives funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, and that is overseen by the Agency of Education, unless the after-school program asks to participate in the child care subsidy program.

    (c) A person who has a license to operate a child care facility shall not operate a family child care home. A person who operates a registered family child care home shall not operate a child care facility.

    (d)(1) Rules pertaining to child care facilities and family child care homes shall be designed to ensure that children in child care facilities and family child care homes are provided with wholesome growth and educational experiences and are not subjected to neglect, mistreatment, or immoral surroundings.

    (2) A licensed child care facility shall ensure that all individuals working at the facility receive orientation, based on materials recommended by the Agency of Human Services and the Agency of Education, on the prevention, identification, and mandatory reporting of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, sexual violence, grooming processes, recognizing the dangers of child sexual abuse in and close to the home, and other predatory behaviors of sex offenders.

    (e) At least each three years, the Department shall review the rules for licensure and registration for revision or updating.

    (f) The Commissioner, upon request, and in the Commissioner's discretion, may grant waivers and variances to child-adult ratios if licensure is applied for by a registered child care facility.

    (g) [Repealed.]

    (h) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Agency of Human Services may provide technical assistance to schools in voluntarily meeting school age child care standards.

    (i) [Repealed.]  (Added 1967, No. 147, § 5; amended 1969, No. 254 (Adj. Sess.); 1971, No. 14, § 21, eff. March 11, 1971; 1973, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.). § 24, eff. April 14, 1974; 1981, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. April 20, 1982; 2001, No. 61, § 74, eff. June 16, 2001; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 109, 140; 2007, No. 62, § 8; 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 15; 2009, No. 1, § 10; 2009, No. 44, § 26, eff. May 21, 2009; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 294, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 62, eff. May 20, 2014; 2021, No. 20, § 319.)

  • § 3503. Corporal punishment prohibited

    (a) As used in this chapter, "corporal punishment" means the intentional infliction of physical pain upon the body of a child as a disciplinary measure.

    (b) No person employed by or agent of a licensed or registered child care facility shall inflict or cause to be inflicted corporal punishment upon a child attending the facility. However, this section does not prohibit a person from using reasonable and necessary force:

    (1) to quell a disturbance;

    (2) to obtain possession of dangerous objects upon the person of or within the control of a child;

    (3) for the purpose of self defense; or

    (4) for the protection of persons or property. (Added 1983, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 16; 2021, No. 20, § 320.)

  • § 3504. Cannabis and tobacco use prohibited at child care facilities

    (a) No person shall be permitted to use cannabis as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 4201 or to cultivate cannabis, or use tobacco products or tobacco substitutes as defined in 7 V.S.A. § 1001, on the premises, both indoor and outdoor, of any licensed child care center or afterschool program at any time.

    (b) No person shall be permitted to use cannabis as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 4201, tobacco products, or tobacco substitutes as defined in 7 V.S.A. § 1001 on the premises, both indoors and in any outdoor area designated for child care, of a licensed or registered family child care home while children are present and in care. If use of cannabis or smoking of tobacco products or tobacco substitutes occurs on the premises during other times, the family child care home shall notify prospective families prior to enrolling a child in the family child care home that their child will be exposed to an environment in which cannabis, tobacco products, or tobacco substitutes are used. Cultivation of cannabis in a licensed or registered family child care home is not permitted.

    (c) A person who knowingly uses or cultivates cannabis in violation of this section commits a misdemeanor crime and shall be subject to the following penalties:

    (1) a fine of not more than $500.00 for a first offense;

    (2) a fine of not more than $750.00 for a second offense;

    (3) a fine of not more than $1,000.00 for a third or subsequent offense. (Added 2013, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; amended 2017, No. 86 (Adj. Sess.), § 16.)

  • § 3505. Supplemental child care grants

    (a)(1) The Commissioner for Children and Families may reserve up to one-half of one percent of the child care family assistance program funds for extraordinary financial relief to assist child care programs that are at risk of closing due to financial hardship. The Commissioner shall develop guidelines for providing assistance and shall prioritize extraordinary financial relief to child care programs in areas of the State with high poverty and low access to high quality child care. If the Commissioner determines a child care program is at risk of closure because its operations are not fiscally sustainable, he or she may provide assistance to transition children served by the child care operator in an orderly fashion and to help secure other child care opportunities for children served by the program in an effort to minimize the disruption of services. The Commissioner has the authority to request tax returns and other financial documents to verify the financial hardship and ability to sustain operations.

    (2) Annually on or before January 15, the Commissioner shall report to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare and to the House Committee on Human Services regarding any funds distributed pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection. Specifically, the report shall address how funds were distributed and used. It shall also address results related to any distribution of funds.

    (b) In instances in which extraordinary financial relief will not maintain ongoing access to high-quality child care, the Department for Children and Families may provide additional support to ensure access to high-quality, comprehensive child care that meets the needs of working parents in high-poverty areas of Vermont. Licensed child care programs may be considered for this additional financial support to help ensure ongoing access to high-quality child care in areas of the State where none exists, as determined by the Commissioner. Financial assistance may be granted, at the discretion of the Commissioner, if the child care program meets the following criteria:

    (1) provides full-day child care year-round;

    (2) serves infants and toddlers;

    (3) is located in a high-poverty area without access to public transportation, as determined by the Commissioner;

    (4) maintains a 5 star rating in the STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) program;

    (5) maintains a caseload in which at least 80 percent of enrollees receive a 100 percent child care subsidy; and

    (6) receives child care subsidies as its primary source of program revenue. (Added 2013, No. 179 (Adj. Sess.), § E.318; amended 2015, No. 58, § E.318.)


  • Subchapter 002: CHILD CARE SERVICES
  • § 3511. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1) "Child" means an individual under 13 years of age.

    (2) "Child care facility" means any place or program operated as a business or service on a regular or continuous basis, whether for compensation or not, whose primary function is protection, care, and supervision of children under 16 years of age outside their homes for periods of fewer than 24 hours a day by a person other than a child's own parent, guardian, or relative, as defined by rules adopted by the Department for Children and Families, but not including a kindergarten approved by the State Board of Education.

    (3) "Child care provider" means a person licensed or registered by the Department for Children and Families, or authorized by the Department, to provide child care.

    (4) "Child care services" include developmentally appropriate care and supervision for children under 13 years of age for fewer than 24 hours a day by a child care provider.

    (5) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner for Children and Families.

    (6) "Division" means the Child Development Division.

    (7) "Family child care home" means a child care facility that provides care on a regular basis in the caregiver's own residence for not more than 10 children at any one time. Of this number, up to six children may be provided care on a full-time basis and the remainder on a part-time basis. As used in this subdivision, care of a child on a part-time basis shall mean care of a school-age child for not more than four hours a day. These limits shall not include children who reside in the residence of the caregiver, except:

    (A) These part-time, school-age children may be cared for on a full-day basis during school closing days, snow days, and vacation days that occur during the school year.

    (B) During the school summer vacation, up to 12 children may be cared for, provided that at least six of these children are of school age and a second staff person is present and on duty when the number of children in attendance exceeds six. These limits shall not include children who are required by law to attend school (seven years of age and older) and who reside in the residence of the caregiver.

    (8) "Training" means an activity, approved by the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee, that is likely to lead to employment or required to maintain employment. (Added 1987, No. 205 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1997, No. 31, § 1; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 110; 2007, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 17; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 63, eff. May 20, 2014; 2019, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Oct. 5, 2020; 2019, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2021.)

  • § 3512. Child Care Financial Assistance Program; eligibility

    (a)(1) The Child Care Financial Assistance Program is established to subsidize, to the extent that funds permit, the costs of child care for families that need child care services in order to obtain employment, to retain employment, or to obtain training leading to employment. Families seeking employment shall be entitled to participate in the Program for up to three months and the Commissioner may further extend that period.

    (2) The subsidy authorized by this subsection shall be established by the Commissioner, by rule, and shall bear a reasonable relationship to income and family size. Families shall be found eligible using an income eligibility scale based on the current federal poverty level and adjusted for the size of the family. Co-payments shall be assigned to the whole family and shall not increase if more than one eligible child is enrolled in child care. Families with an annual gross income of less than or equal to 150 percent of the current federal poverty guidelines shall not have a family co-payment. Families with an annual gross income up to and including 350 percent of current federal poverty guidelines, adjusted for family size, shall be eligible for a subsidy authorized by the subsection. The scale shall be structured so that it encourages employment. If the federal poverty guidelines decrease in a given year, the Division shall maintain the previous year's federal poverty guidelines for the purpose of determining eligibility and benefit amount under this subsection.

    (3) Earnings deposited in a qualified child education savings account, such as the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan, established in 16 V.S.A. § 2877, or any similar plan qualified under 26 U.S.C. § 529, shall be disregarded in determining the amount of a family's income for the purpose of determining continuing eligibility.

    (4) After September 30, 2021, a regulated center-based child care program or family child care home as defined by the Department in rule shall not receive funds pursuant to this subsection that are in excess of the usual and customary rate for services at the center-based child care program or family child care home.

    (b)(1) An Enhanced Child Care Services Subsidy Program is established for families participating in the Reach Ahead program.

    (2) The Enhanced Child Care Services Subsidy Program established by this subsection shall be administered by the Department's Child Development Division. The Commissioner shall adopt rules necessary for the administration of the Program pursuant to 3 V.S.A. chapter 25.

    (3) The subsidy authorized by this subsection shall be no greater than 100 percent of the subsidy provided in subsection (a) of this section.

    (4) A participating family shall remain eligible for the Enhanced Child Care Services Subsidy Program between 12 and 24 months as long as one or more dependent children of a working parent or parents are receiving child care services. The Commissioner for Children and Families may extend the subsidy beyond 24 months if the Commissioners for Children and Families and of Finance and Management determine jointly that an extension can be accommodated within appropriated resources.

    (5) The Enhanced Child Care Services Subsidy Program shall be funded through savings resulting from caseload reductions in the Reach Up program. If there are insufficient savings from caseload reductions to fund the Program, the Program shall be suspended or modified. (Added 1987, No. 205 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 2007, No. 30, § 23, eff. May 17, 2007; 2009, No. 1 (Sp. Sess.), § E.318.1; 2013, No. 198 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. July 1, 2015; 2017, No. 29, § 3; 2019, No. 72, § E.318; 2021, No. 45, § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2021.)

  • § 3513. Protective and family support child care services

    The Division shall establish a program that subsidizes, in whole or in part, the cost of child care services provided to protective services children or to families for the purpose of preserving, rehabilitating, or reunifying such families. (Added 1987, No. 205, (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 64, eff. May 20, 2014.)

  • § 3514. Payment to providers

    (a) The Commissioner shall establish a payment schedule for purposes of reimbursing providers for full- or part-time child care services rendered to families who participate in the programs established under section 3512 or 3513 of this title. Payments established under this section shall reflect the following considerations: whether the provider operates a licensed child care facility or a registered family child care home, type of service provided, cost of providing the service, and the prevailing market rate for comparable service. Payments shall be based on enrollment status or any other basis agreed to by the provider and the Division.

    (b) The Commissioner may establish a separate payment schedule for child care providers who have received specialized training, approved by the Commissioner, relating to protective or family support services.

    (c)(1) The payment schedule established by the Commissioner may reimburse providers in accordance with the results of the most recent Vermont Child Care Market Rate Survey.

    (2) The payment schedule shall include reimbursement rate caps tiered in relation to provider ratings in the Vermont STARS program. The lower limit of the reimbursement rate caps shall be not less than the 50th percentile of all reported rates for the same provider setting in each rate category. (Added 1987, No. 205 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 111; 2021, No. 45, § 3, eff. Oct. 1, 2021.)


  • Subchapter 003: CHILD CARE FACILITIES FINANCING PROGRAM
  • § 3521. Child Care Facilities Financing Program established

    (a) A Child Care Facilities Loan Financing Program is established to facilitate the development or expansion of child care facilities in this State.

    (b) The Program shall be administered by the Office of Economic Opportunity within the Agency of Human Services.

    (c) [Repealed.]  (Added 1987, No. 206 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1989, No. 225 (Adj. Sess.), § 25(b); 1995, No. 180 (Adj. Sess.), § 38(a); 1995, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 112; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 65, eff. May 20, 2014.)

  • § 3522. Loan program

    (a) The State Economic Opportunity Office shall administer a low-interest loan program.

    (b) Loans may be made to persons unable to obtain conventional financing for the purpose of establishing or expanding or renovating a child care facility in this State. The terms of the loans shall be determined by the State Economic Opportunity Office, but shall not be made in an amount in excess of $10,000.00 to any single applicant, nor at a rate to exceed eight and one-half percent, simple interest per annum.

    (c) A Child Care Facilities Financing Revolving Loan Fund shall be established for the Child Care Facilities Financing Program within the State Economic Opportunity Office of the Agency of Human Services. The Fund shall contain appropriations provided for that purpose and all repayments of principal and interest of loans under this section. Interest earnings may be used for administration of this Program.

    (d) The Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity shall establish by rule, the criteria, conditions, and procedures that will be used in administering the provisions of this subchapter. (Added 1987, No. 206 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1995, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 113.)

  • § 3523. Repealed. 1995, No. 188, § 4.


  • Subchapter 004: CHILD CARE FACILITIES FINANCING
  • § 3531. Child care- Building Bright Spaces for Bright Futures Funds

    (a) A child care facilities financing program is established to facilitate the development and expansion of child care facilities in the State. The Program shall be administered by the Department for Children and Families.

    (b) The Program shall be supported from a special fund, to be known as the "Building Bright Spaces for Bright Futures Fund," referred to in this section as "the Bright Futures Fund," hereby created for this purpose to be administered by the Commissioner for Children and Families. Subject to approvals required by 32 V.S.A § 5, the Fund may accept gifts and donations from any source, and the Commissioner may take appropriate actions to encourage contributions and designations to the account, including publicizing explanations of the purposes of the Fund and the uses to which the Bright Futures Fund has been or will be applied.

    (c) Funds appropriated for this Program shall be used by the Commissioner to award grants to eligible applicants for the development and expansion of child care options and community programs targeted for youths 14 through 18 years of age. These options may include recreational programs and related equipment or facilities, development or expansion of child care facilities, and community-based programs that address specific child care and youth program needs of the applicant region. The Commissioner shall establish by rule, criteria, conditions, and procedures for awarding such grants and administering this Program. (Added 2001, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 139; amended 2003, No. 66, § 138; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 66, eff. May 20, 2014; 2021, No. 20, § 321.)


  • Subchapter 005: WORKFORCE
  • § 3541. Scholarships for current early childhood providers

    (a) There is established a need-based scholarship program for individuals employed by a regulated, privately operated center-based child care program or family child care home while acquiring credits in early childhood development or that are related directly to working with children from birth through eight years of age.

    (b) The Department for Children and Families may contract for the administration of the program set forth in subsection (a) of this section and adopt policies, procedures, and guidelines necessary for its implementation.

    (c) Scholarships distributed pursuant to this section shall be available on a first-come, first-served basis until any appropriated funds are depleted.

    [ Subsection (d) repealed effective July 1, 2026.]

    (d) An individual shall not simultaneously participate in the scholarship program set forth in this section and the student loan repayment assistance program set forth in section 3543 of this title. (Added 2021, No. 45, § 6.)

  •  ¢Section 3542 repealed effective July 1, 2026.]

    § 3542. Scholarships for prospective early childhood providers

    (a)(1) There is established a need-based scholarship program for individuals pursuing a college degree in early childhood education or early childhood special education. The scholarship program shall provide financial assistance up to the full cost of tuition for an eligible individual.

    (2) An eligible individual shall:

    (A) attend a Vermont college or university at least part-time;

    (B) be pursuing an associates or bachelor's degree in early childhood education or early childhood special education; and

    (C) commit to working in a regulated, privately operated center-based child care program or family child care home in Vermont for years equal to those in which scholarship monies are sought under this section.

    (b)(1) The Department for Children and Families shall adopt policies, procedures, and guidelines necessary for implementation of the program described in subsection (a) of this section.

    (2) The Department may contract for the administration of the program. Administration costs shall not be more than 10 percent of the total appropriation received to implement this section.

    (c)(1) Scholarships distributed pursuant to this section shall be available on a first-come, first-served basis until any appropriated funds are depleted.

    (2) An eligible individual who does not work the required number of years in a regulated, privately operated center-based child care program or family child care home in Vermont after completion of the individual's degree program shall repay scholarship monies received under this section commensurate with the balance of the eligible individual's time commitment.

    (d) An individual shall not simultaneously participate in the scholarship program set forth in this section and the student loan repayment assistance program set forth in section 3543 of this title. (Added 2021, No. 45, § 6.)

  •  ¢Section 3543 repealed effective July 1, 2026.]

    § 3543. Student loan repayment assistance

    (a)(1) There is established a need-based student loan repayment assistance program for the purpose of providing student loan repayment assistance to any individual employed by a regulated, privately operated center-based child care program or family child care home.

    (2) An eligible individual shall:

    (A) work in a privately operated center-based child care program or in a family child care home that is regulated by the Division for at least an average of 30 hours per week for 48 weeks of the year;

    (B) receive an annual salary of not more than $50,000.00; and

    (C) have earned an associates or bachelor's degree with a major concentration in early childhood, child and human development, elementary education, special education with a birth to age eight focus, or child and family services within the preceding five years.

    (3) To participate in the program set forth in this section, an eligible individual shall submit to the Department for Children and Families documentation expressing the individual's intent to work in a regulated, privately operated center-based child care program or family child care home for at least the 12 months following the annual loan repayment award notification. A participant may receive up to $4,000.00 annually in student loan repayment assistance, which shall be distributed by the Department in four allotments. The Department shall distribute at least one-quarter of the individual's total annual benefit after the individual has completed three months of employment in accordance with the program. The remainder of an individual's total annual benefit shall be distributed by the Department every three months after the initial payment.

    (b)(1) The Department shall adopt policies, procedures, and guidelines necessary to implement the provisions of this section.

    (2) Student loan repayments shall be available pursuant to this section on a first-come, first-served basis until appropriated funds are depleted.

    (3) The Department may contract for the administration of the program. Administration costs shall not be more than 10 percent of the total appropriation received to implement this section.

    (c) An individual shall not simultaneously participate in the student loan repayment assistance program set forth in this section and either of the scholarship programs set forth in section 3541 or 3542 of this title. (Added 2021, No. 45, § 6.)