MONTPELIER, Vt. — This spring, Allison Lague was busy: She was keeping her child care program open to serve children of essential workers and also home-schooling her own kindergartener and third-grader.

Lague has been running a registered family child care program in Fairfax for 10 years. She’s earned 4 out of 5 stars from Vermont’s quality recognition and improvement system for early care and learning programs, but to achieve the highest rating of 5 stars, she needed to increase her qualifications. Needless to say, it had been difficult to find the time and money to make that happen.

When Lague heard about the Community College of Vermont’s Focused Portfolio Development class, and found out that funding from Let’s Grow Kids would allow her to take the class for a nominal fee of $30 with the potential to earn 16 college credits in eight weeks, she was determined to make it work.

“You couldn’t take that many college courses in that amount of time, and the cost savings was a huge deal,” Lague said.

The Focused Portfolio Development class is part of CCV’s Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program, which offers “credit for what you know.” PLA is designed to help working adults realize college credits for college-level learning gained on the job, in the military, or through volunteerism or self-study. Credits earned through the semester-long courses can provide a fast-track to a credential or degree.

Lague and the eight other Franklin County participants who took Focused Portfolio Development this spring with support from Let’s Grow Kids each earned an average of 13 credits, which translates to $3,523 in tuition savings and 182 classroom hours saved. Tuition savings for the entire cohort totaled more than $31,000.

“I really believe there’s always room to grow and learn as an early educator,” Lague said. “It’s not just about supervising children; the obstacles children and families face are ever-changing, and I think it’s good to have diverse knowledge and skills to serve all types of families.”

Vermont was struggling to recruit and retain qualified early childhood educators before COVID-19. Let’s Grow Kids released a report in January 2020 that found Vermont needed an additional 2,000 early childhood educators to meet child care demand. One of the root causes of the shortage has been a lack of affordable professional development supports for the early childhood education field.

“We cannot begin to solve Vermont’s child care crisis or make meaningful progress on our COVID-19 recovery efforts without investing in building up and supporting our essential early childhood education workforce,” said Let’s Grow Kids CEO Aly Richards.

CCV offers frequent informational webinars about prior learning assessment opportunities and will host its next webinar on Tuesday, August 25th. To learn more and to register, visit

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