Voices’ Blog

Sharing Perspectives on Virginia’s Early Childhood Plans

Posted:  -  By: Emily Griffey

Over my last eight years at Voices, I’ve said that Virginia needs some big ideas and big changes to our early childhood system many, many times. This year we got both– a proposed $95 million to increase opportunities for economically disadvantaged 3 & 4 year-olds, and system reforms to align early childhood under the Department of Education. Change can be scary, but these changes are long overdue and rest on years of work (and some recent grinding by Jenna, our Chief School Readiness Officer, and her team at VDOE) to make it happen.

After working in this field for so many years I have luckily found many friends and colleagues willing to share their perspectives. By having my own two young children, and interacting with their teachers and providers, I live early childhood education every day. As the early childhood education reform bill and budget package make their way through the House and Senate, I wanted to share some perspectives I’ve heard from the stakeholders excited to get this done.

From a parent: “I really want my son to attend an economically diverse and high quality preschool. I love that this proposal includes flexibility for eligibility of VPI and quality improvement supports.”

From a private provider: “For a long time I didn’t see how blending with public funds would benefit me but now I get it. Bringing in public dollars helps me serve more families and pay my teachers more.”

From a licensing inspector: “When I go and inspect a program what I notice is that kids are learning, and my job should be to support that. I’m excited about a possible move over to VDOE because I think it makes sense.”

From an early childhood educator: “I love my job, I love working with young kids. But the truth is, I just don’t get paid enough to provide for my family. If I can get paid more even a little more through educator and training incentives that makes it even more worth it to work in this field.”

From ECE philanthropy: “Is Virginia going to do this? You’ve been behind for so long.”

From a Head Start Director: “We have so many economically disadvantaged kids in Virginia that we can’t serve. I hope we get to serve more infants and toddlers in Early Head Start as state funded preschool grows.”

From a policy wonk: (ok, this one is me 🙂 ) “I’ve never seen a time where Virginia is using so much data and analysis to  inform our decisions about early childhood. We are looking at progress data from the PDG pilot initiatives, enrollment data by age group, and more extensive VKRP data. Let’s use this to focus on closing these opportunity gaps for economically disadvantaged kids and kids of color.”

I hope you’ll share these perspectives with others and even add your own when you do!

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