First Steps Training Program


  • Professional Learning

Burlington, Vermont

The First Steps Training Program, offered since the fall of 2023 by the City of Burlington’s Business & Workforce Development Office and Let’s Grow Kids, provides free training to Burlington residents with a high school diploma or GED who are interested in a career caring for infants and toddlers. The program consists of a 45-hour training series designed to build foundational knowledge of child development and promote the teaching and caregiving skills needed to work with groups of children, including curriculum development for infant and toddler classrooms and emergency response training. Classes are sponsored by the Community College of Vermont and include Pediatric First Aid & CPR Training, résumé and application guidance, and courses that highlight diversity, equity, and inclusion in early childhood education.

The program is fully funded through the City of Burlington’s Early Learning Initiative (ELI), and is free to participants, who are eligible for a $1000 bonus awarded in full after completing the entire program. Prorated bonuses are offered for those who miss pieces of the training (e.g., DEI training). Employees of First Steps Scholarship partner programs may receive training without fully enrolling in the program.

The City of Burlington’s Early Learning Initiative was founded in 2017 to help all Burlingtonians access high-quality, affordable child care, specifically for infants and toddlers. ELI achieves this by (1) giving direct financial support to families in need through the First Steps Scholarship, and (2) supporting childcare centers in individual and organizational learning.


City of Burlington Early Learning Initiative. (n.d.). Programs for Child Care Providers.

City of Burlington Early Learning Initiative. (2023). Annual Report.


Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

The early education workforce is the foundation upon which all daily work and any expansion and quality improvement efforts rest. Research suggests that states and cities should invest in the workforce across all early education setting types, focusing on enhancing educators’ professional learning, compensation, and workplace conditions.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
  • Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Burlington

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  • The city population is 44,595
  • The number of children under age 5 is 3.7%
  • The median family income among households with children is $59,331