Voices’ Blog

#SchoolReadiness4NOVA- Parents, providers and stakeholders support increased early learning investments in Fairfax

Posted:  -  By: Voices for VA's Kids

Local budget decisions can have a tremendous impact on Virginia’s children in addition to our work on the state budget at the General Assembly. This is especially true in Fairfax this year where the delay on the state budget has created additional uncertainty for local decision makers- on top of pressure to increase funding for schools and raise real estate taxes. With these decisions muddying the waters in Fairfax, Voices knew it would be incredibly important for taxpayers, business leaders and child care providers to go “on the record” stating that increases early learning are essential.

To bring attention to a proposed increase in early learning opportunities in Fairfax, Voices helped to coordinate a campaign to highlight broad support for these investments. Many local child care providers, national organizations, local taxpayers, retired military leaders and the business community lent their voices to the campaign by sending letters, testifying to the Board of Supervisors or joining in on the Early Learning Day of Action aligned with the Week of the Young Child. Many thanks to all who joined in!

Early Learning Day of Action

On April 9, advocates gathered for a rally at Main Street Child Development Center, one of Fairfax’s 4-star rated centers. One of the center’s Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) classes joined the rally to cheer and sing a song. These young children were truly having a high-quality preschool experience. “Every child in Fairfax should have this chance,” said Carol Lieske, Main Street’s Director.

Main Street CDC's VPI class sings to rally support for early learning

Main Street CDC’s VPI class sings to rally support for early learning

Two mothers of preschoolers spoke at the rally as well. View the videos below;

– For Rosa, whose children are eligible for VPI and child care assistance, high quality early learning allows her to work and provide for her family, and give her kids the best start.
– To Cary, high quality early learning is an excellent opportunity for her own child, and shared her belief that we should do more so that other local families can have these choices too.

Eleanor Saslaw, former member of the Board of Directors of Voices for Virginia’s Children and the state Board of Education, said, “Fairfax can also make investments in early learning a long term priority by establishing plans to ensure that the 1,400 at-risk 4 year olds who would be eligible but aren’t offered a slot in the affordable, high quality preschool are offered the opportunity to attend.”

Fahemeh Pirzadeh, Director of Reston Children’s Center and President-elect of the Northern Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children affirmed, “As a VPI provider, I am able to enroll children who otherwise wouldn’t have this opportunity for pre-K. There are families in my center who are enrolled thanks to child care subsidy assistance and I know it makes a difference for their ability to go to work, for their peace of mind, and for their child’s early development because we provide high-quality care and learning opportunities.”

Later that day, supporters joined the hundreds of individuals who had shown up to testify to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors on the budget. We presented art created by children who currently have the opportunity attend high quality early learning to demonstrate our support for additional funding for mentoring and coaching for child care providers and additional VPI opportunities.

 Supporters present art created by local preschoolers during the Fairfax public budget hearing.

Supporters present art created by local preschoolers during the Fairfax public budget hearing.

These activities were shared on our Facebook page and shared by many supporters. WTOP radio covered the story during the afternoon commute and posted it on their website.

We will continue to work with stakeholders to demonstrate support for early learning until the budget is decided. Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to weigh in.

There is still time to make your case to the Fairfax Board of Supervisors! 

Use this letter template (letter to Fairfax Bd Supervisorsand contact your supervisors (Fairfax BOS addresses). 

If you have questions, please contact Emily Griffey at Emily@vakids.org

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