The FY2018 omnibus spending bill approved by Congress included an unprecedented increase in early childhood funding, including an additional $2.9 billion for state child care systems, approximately $45 million of which will come to Virginia.
We are encouraging all providers who participate in the child care assistance program, local administrators, parents, early childhood educators, professional development stakeholders, and advocates to weigh in. An online portal for comments is open through April 27 and public hearings will be held throughout the state.
Voices will host a conference call for advocates wishing to review the plan and discuss our comments on Monday, April 16, 10:15- 11:15 a.m.
Here are the TOP 10 REASONS you should weigh in on the child care state plan:
Address the 30 percent decline in participation! There are likely several factors for this decline, including fewer providers willing to participate because of low rates. Voices has heard that one of the biggest barriers to participation over the last two years is the implementation of a requirement to participate in the child support enforcement system to receive subsidy.
Enable providers to ask for a rate increase! The reimbursement rates paid to providers have not been increased since 2014. VDSS included in the plan that rates for Fairfax County can cover the costs of only a quarter of providers in Fairfax. The federal government has asked states to set rates at a level that covers 75 percent of providers.
Expand Virginia Quality to link quality and access through tiered reimbursement! Our quality rating and improvement system, Virginia Quality, is an excellent system to set the mark for quality in early learning and to help providers attain quality. Currently working with 1,000 providers across the state, it is missing a critical element to incentivize quality improvement, the tiered reimbursement strategy to pay a higher subsidy rate to programs achieving higher quality.
Increase infant and toddler set-aside funds to support quality improvement and access to care! The feds require 10-12 percent of child care funds be set aside for improving quality and supporting access for infant and toddler care. The additional funds will generate an increase in Virginia’s investments in these system improvements.
Prevent suspension and expulsion and support social-emotional learning! VDSS and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) have released guidelines around how to prevent suspension and expulsion; however, other efforts around training and professional development or professional competencies are not aligned with these recommendations. These guidelines as well as considerations about how to serve homeless children open up a dialogue about trauma-informed practice.
Implement health and safety improvements! The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization of 2014 included improvements to health and safety standards, such as fingerprint background checks. Through fall of 2018, VDSS is covering the cost of the first round of fingerprint checks.
Increase support for underserved communities! The federal reauthorization asked Virginia to identify ways to support high-poverty communities with limited access to child care. Virginia is working on a proposal to increase the number of home-based family child care providers in more rural parts of the state.
Build a public-private partnership system with the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI)! A child care subsidy can provide an excellent resource to blend and braid funds to support full-day and full-year care to expand on the quality education provided through VPI.