Voices’ Blog

ECE Briefing: 1 in 3 of VA’s Young Kids are At-Risk; and Only 1 in 3 Get Help

Posted:  -  By: Voices for VA's Kids

Voices’ recently conducted a Briefing on Early Childhood in Virginia for Richmond area stakeholders. We will repeat the briefing in Reston, VA on Friday, December 6th at the Reston Family YMCA. More details here. The Briefing presentation and notes are available here: ECE Briefing Presentation Notes

Voices for Virginia’s Children recently analyzed three significant reports on early childhood education in Virginia. The findings are as follows:

-1 out of 3 young children lives in a low-income family earning below 200% poverty ($39,000 for a family of 3). These young children are at-risk of falling behind their peers before they even start school.

 –These reports identify additional indicators of risk beyond income, such as health risks at birth and children living with parents who face mental health challenges as important indicators beyond income.

The troubling news is that only 1 in 3 at-risk kids can participate in proven programs such as home visiting, early intervention, public preschool and high-quality child care.

 –Although it is a significant undertaking to ensure that all at-risk kids have access to high-quality, proven programs, we can increase these opportunities incrementally. The first step is to restore funding to home visiting for families and the close the shortfall in early intervention services for developmentally delayed babies and toddlers. After we get those programs back to solid footing, we can take the second step to fully utilize the Virginia Preschool Initiative and ensure that every community is providing the opportunity for young children to succeed in the future workforce.

 

There are also low-cost steps that we could take to ensure that our babies, infants and toddlers get a good start on their path to prosperity. Together with partners from the next administration, the legislature, and the private sector we can:

Collaborate and share resources – Organizations such as the Home Visiting Consortium connect early childhood professionals with each other so they can share resources and information to work smarter and more efficiently. This helps Virginia get the most out of the precious dollars that lawmakers allocate to early childhood education. These types of collaboration can be replicated throughout the field.

Build on our experience in innovation – Virginia’s local and regional Smart Beginnings communities know firsthand what young kids need to succeed. We can start by listening to their ideas for approaching old problems in new ways.

Establish a “cradle to career” vision with bi-partisan leadership and accountability– Our progress to date would not have been possible without the commitment of Virginia’s policymakers and business leaders. As we approach the transition to a new administration, the time is right to ask our leaders to articulate a “cradle to career” vision for Virginia and put the accountability in place to make it happen.

 

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