EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Education received during the first five years of a child’s life is important to a child’s long-term educational success. Virginia currently ranks 33rd in the nation in investment in early childhood education. According to the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program, almost half of Virginia children enter kindergarten without the basic skills they need to succeed in school. Over 20,000 Virginia children lack access to an affordable high-quality early learning program
- Virginia PTA supports funding and programs that increase access to and improve the quality and regulatory oversight of Virginia’s early childhood care and education system. This includes expanding Virginia’s Preschool Initiative (VPI) and Mixed Delivery Grants to include at-risk three and four year-olds in both public and private settings.
Since it’s inception, PTA has called for the prioritization of early education, as research shows that providing effective, targeted supports and interventions to children and parents starting at birth will better prepare them for academic and career success.
Below is information on improvements Virignia PTA has advocated for over the past several General Assembly Sessions.
During the 2020 General Assembly Session Virginia PTA actively advocated for transformative legislation that consolidated all early childhood services into the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). The new VDOE Office of Early Childhood Education now serves as a single point of accountability for all programs serving children age 0 to 5 outside of the home. This includes the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) which has been administered by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) since its inception in the 1990’s as well as Head Start and the federal Child Care Subsidy Program which were previously administered through the Virginia Department of Social Services.
In March of 2020, the General Assembly’s adopted budget included a historic $85 million increase in state funding for early childhood programs. Due to the impact of COVID-19 and an anticipated economic downturn all new spending was frozen or un-allotted.
In the 2020 Special Session approximately $55 million of these new investments in early learning were restored including an expansion of the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP). Substantial investment in Early Childhood programs from the CARES federal stimulous funds and American Rescue Plan have been impactful in expanding access to affordable childcare and stablizing the childcare industry.
During the 2021 General Assembly Session $52.5M was alloted to a 6- month Emergency Childcare Assitance Program that provides childcare financial assistance to families in need during COVID-19 who have children aged 13 and younger. Additionally impactful legislation passes that established background check portability and a two-year pilot program, to be administered by the Virginia Department of Education for the purpose of stabilizing and improving the quality of services provided in the Commonwealth’s child care industry.
Start advocating for the students in your community by sharing information about how to access high-quality childcare and childcare subsidy programs. Help #TakeAction4Kids by speaking at Board of Supervisor or School Board meetings, emailing your legislators, getting active on social media, writting letters to editor, joining a virtual rally or attend Virginia PTA’s Capitol Day.
ChildCareVA.com provides a comprehensive repository of resources and information to make choosing safe, quality child care easier for parents. It additionally provides caretakers with information about the benefits of becoming a licensed child care provider or subsidy provider, and helps current providers stay up-to- date on the latest news and requirements.
GET HELP PAYING FOR CHILDCARE
Through Virginia’s Childcare Subsidy Program, families earning up to 85% of the state median income who have at least one child not yet in kindergarten are eligible for subsidized child care. That means a single parent with one child earning about $60,000 a year or a family of four with a household income of about $89,000 or less would be eligible for up to 12 months.
PTA POSITIONS & POLICY LETTERS
- Virginia PTA Resolution: Early Childhood Education
RESEARCH & RESOURCES
- Hunt Institute, Early Childhood Landscape in Virginia
- Governor’s Proposal for Early Childhood Reform
- Virginia Department of Education Early Childhood Resources
- Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program
- Virginia’s Childcare Subsidy Program Expansion
As part of the Virginia Promise Partnership, Virginia PTA is collaborating with other associations to advocate for policies and resources that will provide families with better access to affordable, quality childcare by 2030.
QUESTIONS: Email Vice President of Advocacy