Voices’ Blog

Early Childhood Education and Care in the 2020 Special Session

Posted:  -  By: Emily Griffey

After the regular session ended with historic investments in early education, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and completely disrupted families’ lives. It also caused the governor to revisit the budget and put all new spending on pause. At the start of the August Special Session, Governor Northam released his revised budget forecast and updated budget striking much of the new funding that was approved in March.

Despite many across the board cuts, a few initiatives for early education and child care were included in the governor’s protected budget.

  • $3 million for early educator incentives for educators participating in quality improvement activities connected to Virginia’s Preschool Development Grant.
  • $16.6 million to provide grants for child care partnerships with schools for school age children in response to the pandemic. These funds could support 10-15 grants to localities or regional collaboratives to support child care needs.
  • $3.7 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to provide the pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) benefit for children enrolled in Head Start programs that did not receive financial assistance for summer meals.

Along with these investments, the Virginia Department of Education (DOE) is moving ahead with transitioning the oversight for child care from the Department of Social Services. And additional local partnerships are forming through Mixed-Delivery Grants.

These initiatives will be helpful to families who are struggling and early educators. But they will not meet all of the needs of a crumbling child care sector and families trying to work full-time and support virtual school.

As state lawmakers consider changes to the budget, early childhood advocates and employers must speak up for additional support for child care in the final budget.

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