Voices’ Blog

Budget Negotiations Continue in the City of Alexandria

Posted:  -  By: Emily Griffey

As Voices works to connect the dots and urge federal and state leaders to prioritize action, we also support localities taking bold steps to invest in children, especially when it comes to school readiness opportunities. Growing numbers of children are living in poverty in the Commonwealth – and Alexandria is not immune to this or its devastating effects on young children.

The City of Alexandria’s model for early care and education is gaining attention, not just for opportunities for four-year-olds but also the important work for children birth to age five.

A quick look back at recent weeks:

  • Voices for Virginia’s Children collaborated with local advocates to urge attention for child care and preschool access and quality during the City Council budget hearing in March.
  • Thanks to the program providers and advocates who signed a letter to City Council in April. View- Letter to Alexandria City Council
  • As the state General Assembly session concluded – offering an increased per-pupil rate in VPI and the chance to determine eligibility priorities based on local factors for 15% of the slots – and the Department of Education allocated additional slots to Alexandria to meet rising need – local debate continued on how and where to meet the needs of Alexandria’s four year olds.
  • Though the General Assembly took significant steps forward for early care and education in 2016, they did not invest in child care subsidy. Alexandria supports local families through its own investment, and we appreciate the difference this makes for families. More than 200 families are on the local waiting list. Working parents need reliable child care and this is crucial to Alexandria’s economy and to the early learning opportunities of these children.

Next step in the action:

Now, Council members and advocates face the “add/delete” phase of budget negotiations. Think of this like amendments – adding and deleting ideas and dollars for programs.

And, Council needs to hear from local advocates once again.

Voices for Virginia’s Children is working with local advocates to urge support for two particular budget amendments – one in support of youth and family after-school services at the Nannie J. Lee Center, and one in support of additional child care subsidy funding that would reach 58 families currently on the local waiting list. For more information and talking points please contact Mary Beth Testa at marybeth@mbstsolutions.com.

City Council will make a final review of the “add/delete” options on Monday, May 2, and will meet to approve the final budget on May 5. Please contact your Council member this weekend!

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