written by Mary Beth Testa, Voices’ Northern Virginia consultant
Early childhood development is a smart investment. We have made good progress in Virginia in recent years: recognition is increasing among delegates and senators, and recommendations are turning into action.
The work at the state level continued this year even after the conclusion of the General Assembly session. The School Readiness Committee, the Commission on Youth, the Joint Subcommittee on the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI), and the newly created Substance Exposed Infants Work Group convened to discuss, strategize, and make recommendations. As described in a recent Voices’ blog, in December the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released a report on early childhood programs in the state, with recommendations to pursue and important details to navigate.
State investment is increasing the reach and impact of preschool, early childhood home visiting, and more. Still, only 35 percent of economically disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds attend preschool, compared to 55 percent of their higher-income peers. Families struggle to afford child care in the commonwealth, given the average cost of $12,000 per year for infant care. Employers struggle as workers miss, on average, between four and eight days per year due to child care problems.
We must continue to prioritize early care and education as smart policy for and sound investment in Virginia. The Early Childhood Network takes a comprehensive approach, recognizing that young children need strong families and supportive communities. This comprehensive approach is reflected in the network’s 2018 Unified Early Childhood Policy Agenda, which urges supporting access to health care, addressing the opioid epidemic, and preventing childhood trauma.
Working Together to Promote Prevention, Address Risk, and Provide Return on Investment
Download our fact sheet, which includes recommendations of the 2018 Unified Early Childhood Policy Agenda and data to use in our advocacy together!
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We thank the members of the Early Childhood Policy Network for their leadership and collaboration with Voices for Virginia’s Children:
Child Care Aware of Virginia, Children’s Center, Child Development Resources, Children’s National Health System, ChildSavers, Families Forward (CHIP of Virginia, PCAV, Early Impact of Virginia), Head Start Association, JustChildren/Legal Aid Justice Center, Northern Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children, Smart Beginnings Prince William County, Virginia Association of Community Services Boards, Virginia Association of Early Childhood Education, Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health, and the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.Read More Blog Posts