Voices’ Blog

What is included in Governor McAuliffe’s budget for early childhood?

Posted:  -  By: Emily Griffey

At Voices we believe that preparing kids to succeed in school takes a comprehensive approach engaging parents, communities, teachers and schools. This is the approach that Voices and our partners in the Early Childhood Policy Network have outlined in our Unified Policy Agenda- “Starting Early and Working Together”. We are pleased to see budget that makes additional investments in each of those areas to impact school readiness through a birth to preschool approach and to ensure that more children can experience high quality early learning.

What is included in Governor McAuliffe’s budget for early childhood?

  • Support for parents to become empowered as their child’s first teacher by expanding Virginia’s home visiting network- $15.5 million

The Governor teamed up with the Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam, to announce a significant increase in Virginia’s evidence-based home visiting programs, CHIP of Virginia and Healthy Families Virginia to restore program cuts and expand to serve more families. The budget includes an increase in funding for CHIP of $1 million each year and an increase for Healthy Families of $6.75 million each year. While this increase will help to reach more of the at-risk families with in-home parenting and health education, the two organizations receiving these funds, and the Home Visiting Consortium, had developed a plan for the Consortium to receive the funds to support capacity building and collaboration.

  • Additional funding for developmental therapies for infants and toddlers served by Early Intervention (Part C)- $4.2 million

To meet the increasing number of infants and toddlers with identified developmental delays, an additional $1.7 million is included in FY17 and $2.5 million in FY18.

  • Improvements to child care safety

Language is included in the budget to allocate resources as needed to implement new licensing standards for family day homes. Budget language, additional funds and positions are included to extend the fingerprint background checks to all licensed and regulated child care providers. Language is also included in the budget stating that the Department of Social Services shall work with the localities that currently inspect child care programs to minimize duplication and overlap of inspections.

  • Additional funding for child care assistance- $20 million

Around $10 million in additional funding is allocated each year of the biennium to help low-income working families afford child care.

  • Access to the Virginia Preschool Initiative- Some local flexibility in eligibility

The Governor’s budget does not include any increases to the Virginia Preschool Initiative and provides flat funding at $69 million for each year of the biennium. However, the budget does include two language provisions that will help to ensure access to VPI across Virginia’s diverse communities. The first provision is that no community should have fewer slots than they used in the previous year. The second provision is to allow for some local flexibility in eligibility decisions. The eligibility criteria outlined in the budget is consistent with the four eligibility factors established last year (below 200% poverty, homeless, child of HS drop out, below 350% poverty for student with special needs or disability). The language adds that up to 15% of a division’s slots may be filled based on locally established eligibility criteria to meet the needs of at-risk children in the community.

  • More opportunities for public-private partnerships and workforce development- $6.9 million

The Governor’s budget proposal includes $1.5 million in funding each year to expand access to preschool through public-private partnerships. We believe this approach is a win-win-win for the private sector, schools lacking classroom space and children who could benefit from high-quality early learning. Funding would go to the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation to administer the grants.

The budget also includes $1.6 million the first year and $2.3 million the second year for a scholarship program for the early childhood workforce to be administered by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.

For more information on these proposals, contact Emily Griffey at Emily@vakids.org.

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