Investing in Virginia’s Early Care and Education system will be critical to ensure that all of Virginia’s children are prepared to succeed in the workforce. When young children and their families have access to quality early care and education, they are more likely to succeed in school, and in turn become productive members of the workforce. Early experiences have a significant effect on children’s growth and development, with the majority of brain growth and development occurring before age 5. Research shows that investing in early childhood will pay off in the long term, through reduced costs of school retention, health care and incarceration. And we know that investing in early childhood will pay off in the short term, by supporting working parents and improving child health.
WHERE VIRGINIA STANDS ON EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION
Every dollar that is invested in early care and education can produce a $7-10 return on investment. We believe that every dollar that Virginia invests in this area is critical to building a strong economy. Voices supports a system of early care and education that invests in initiatives that can produce this demonstrated return on investment.
The need for Virginia to invest in early care in education was first laid out in the 2004 report, No Time to Waste. As Virginia has made significant progress in this area by investing in the Virginia Preschool Initiative, supporting the Smart Beginnings regional coalitions and finding opportunities to collaborate, such as the Home Visiting Consortium, we still have significant work to do. Voices has outlined the current opportunities to build on this framework in Building Our Future: The State of Virginia’s Early Childhood System. For highlights and a quick review of the report, please see the executive summary. (pdf, September 2011)
In order to continue to give our future workforce the best start, Virginia will need to:
- Support high, quality and affordable child opportunities for working parents
- Expand access to preschool opportunities
- Develop strong families by supporting evidence-based home visitation
- Strengthen the early childhood system to support effective programs and highly skilled professionals
While Virginia has made progress in these areas, we still have a significant hill to climb to ensure that all of Virginia’s young children have access to the opportunities and preparation to succeed. Read more about the Opportunity Gaps in Early Care and Education (December 2012).
Voices strongly supports the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, which is now 10 years overdue for such renewal. The program provides funding for critical child care supports to families in need. Here in Virginia, an average of 24,000 children up to age 12 are served by CCDBG, though there are approximately 215,000 children potentially eligible for the assistance the program provides. Learn more about CCDBG reauthorization and its benefits, as well as the potential benefits to Virginia’s children and families: Support for Early Learning & Child Care: Building A Solid Foundation for Virginia’s Children and Families (pdf)
The information in our KIDS COUNT data center can provide a snapshot of where Virginia stands on early care and education in comparison to other states.
For the last several years, Voices has convened the Early Childhood Policy Action Network to develop a Unified Early Childhood Legislative Agenda. This Network represents advocates for young children from across different disciplines in early care and education and seeks to develop a common message for legislative support of early care and education issues.
Voices also focuses on the early care and education needs specifically in Northern Virginia region with the Northern Virginia Parent and Provider Network. Advocates from the field of early care and education in Northern Virginia use the Network to share common issues and highlight the needs of the Northern Virginia region.
Help inform the direction of early care and education by participating in this Needs Assessment for the Early Childhood Advisory Council. This survey seeks input from early childhood professionals and parents on priorities for early care and education.
Office of Early Childhood Development- The resource within state government for collaboration around early care and education.
Smart Beginnings- Virginia’s public/private partnership for early childhood and home to regional coalitions supporting early care and education.
For more information contact Emily Griffey at Emily@vakids.org or (804) 649-0184.