Governor McDonnell’s proposed budget includes support for several noteworthy early care and education programs. We believe these initial proposals are good first steps to ensure that Virginia’s youngest children are on a path to prosperity. Voices is primarily concerned with Virginia creating a budget that is able to support the most vulnerable children reach their full potential by connecting them to resources. We hope that the legislature will support these proposals, and look for opportunities to increase their impact.
Home Visiting Programs
* Virginia’s comprehensive maternal and early childhood home visiting programs, CHIP and Healthy Families, have faced budget cuts and program closures each year since the recession.
* Restoring $2.5 million each year of the biennium for voluntary home visiting ($1.6 M for Healthy Families; $900,000 for CHIP/Parents As Teachers) would allow these programs to serve at least 670 more families during the most critical developmental periods of their child’s earliest years.
* Since 2007, the number of infants and toddlers identified with developmental delays has increased 52%. When these infants and toddlers get the help they need through Early Intervention (IDEA Part C), many are able to live up to their full potential and 1 in 5, “graduate” without referrals to special education.
* Last year, lawmakers provided additional funding to keep up with increasing need, yet experts expect the number of children identified with delays will outpace the current budget.
* To ensure all of the babies and toddlers identified for intervention get the help they need when they need it, Virginia lawmakers should provide additional funding for FY14, and an additional $2 M for each year of FY15-16 biennium.
Virginia Preschool Initiative
* Nearly one-third of the preschool slots funded by the state through the Virginia Preschool Initiative went unfilled last year because local governments did not provide the required matching funds.
* Gov. McDonnell’s budget proposed increases to VPI to serve more at-risk 4 year olds.
* To ensure that all of the preschool slots are offered, Lawmakers should encourage localities to partner with private providers to expand their VPI programs.
* Governor McDonnell’s budget proposes a slight increase in federal funds for child care assistance to implement a sliding co-payment scale based on family size and income.
* The sliding scale would reduce some of the cost burden on low-income families. However, this minimal increase does not include additional funding to raise reimbursement rates for providers, which have not experienced increases in some cases since 2007.
* Working families must be able to afford child care and providers must be able to deliver high-quality, safe programming.
* Governor McDonnell’s budget proposes increases to the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation to implement kindergarten readiness assessment programs.
* Currently, kindergarten teachers assess students for literacy; this new assessment would allow teachers take a more comprehensive look at readiness, including math skills and physical development among other domains.
* We hope that the Department of Education will play a key role in implementing the new assessment as well.
* This project is a great example of how public, private and government organizations can work together to build early childhood initiatives.
If you have any questions about these proposals please contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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