Children are more likely to succeed in school and in life if they
have high-quality care and education during their early years. Society
as a whole benefits as well. According to a 1999 RAND study, Every
$1 invested in early childhood development programs saves $7 in remedial
education, welfare and incarceration.
The Pre-K / Early Childhood segment of the Education for a Lifetime program focuses on supporting early care and education programs,
helping parents prepare children for school, making sure the health
and nutrition needs of children are being met, and ensuring that
we use our funding effectively.
Families are key in any student's educational success. That's one reason why Education for a Lifetime's Pre-K initiative
• New Parent Tool Kits that include clear, easy-to-understand information about early childhood development. The kits feature a toll-free telephone line (1-866-KIDS TLC) that links parents to child care, health insurance, health and other community resources, and parenting support.
A total of 110,000 kits, (choose English or Spanish) are
available for distribution to new parents all across Virginia. Call
1-800-CHILDREN for a local contact for getting a kit.
• An aggressive public awareness campaign to educate parents about the importance of early learning and quality care to a child’s healthy growth and development. These Early Childhood Summits, held in late May and early June of 2005, have involved the media, retailers, business and community leaders, education and social service professionals, and others in a broad-based education campaign that promotes the benefits of reading and quality child care in children from birth to age 5.
These summits led to the creation of the Early Learning Council, which met several times over the span of five months, and in October published a report with recommended goals and prioritized strategies for achieving these goals.
• A continuation of the Governors successful effort to increase
enrollment in the Family Access
to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) plan, while focusing
on efforts to promote good nutrition, health screenings, and immunizations
for children; and to reduce the occurrence of childhood obesity
Local communities are on the front lines in providing much-needed
services and resources for Virginias children. These resources
come from a variety of private, faith-based and government sources,
and often it can be confusing for parents to understand where to
get the best information and help they need for their children.
Recognizing that more government involvement is not the solution,
the Governor’s initiative brings the public and private sectors
together to help Virginia children succeed. Early Childhood Partnership
grants of $500,000 have been awarded to three localities that have
demonstrated the ability to bring together people and organizations
on a local or regional level to create a comprehensive system of
early care and education for young children. Read
the news release for more details on these grant winners.
Children will perform better in school when those caring for them
are qualified and well-trained.
When Governor Warner took office, Virginia’s standards for child care centers ranked in the bottom half of states in their required level of staff training; in the educational qualifications for those directing a center; and in the staff-to-children ratios for two-year-old children. Unlike the majority of states, the standards had no limits on the size of the classroom. They also fell short of the recommended guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care.
The Warner administration has been working with the Child Day-Care Council, child care providers, children’s advocates, and other interested parties to come up with appropriate measures to strengthen our child care system in Virginia. The revised child day care center standards were approved by the Governor in January 2005, and took effect June 1, 2005. These new standards include:
- Increasing education qualifications for individuals who are directing programs for children;
- Increasing certain staffing requirements so teachers/caregivers have more time for positive interaction with children;
- Establishing, for the first time, a maximum classroom size for children of preschool age or younger;
- Increasing the training for teachers / caregivers working with children to help them provide a safe and stimulating environment for children.
To assist providers in meeting more stringent training requirements,
the Virginia Department of Social Services will double the number
of training opportunities it provides from 20,000 annually to 40,000.
The Governor’s initiative is funded through a combination of existing resources and $10 million in federal funds, which are available to increase the quality of care throughout the Commonwealth.