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RICHMOND—Governor Northam today announced that the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF), in consultation with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), will award six grants to local communities that have proposed innovative approaches to expand access to high-quality preschool for at-risk children through partnerships with community-based early childhood programs. This is the third cohort of mixed-delivery grantees since 2016. Funding for the grants was included in the budget for Fiscal Year 2019–2020.
“The investments we make in quality preschool education today will have long-term returns for our children, our future workforce, and our economy,” said Governor Northam. “In recent years, these grants have produced tremendous results across the Commonwealth. With this new funding we will continue to support innovative partnerships between public and private entities, increasing the number of children served by these programs, and giving more of our students the opportunity to enter kindergarten poised for success.”
“Access to high quality early childhood education programming helps close the achievement gap that unfortunately exists before students enter kindergarten,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These grants support communities to help meet the unique needs of their families and young learners in exciting ways that foster collaboration amongst public and private providers.”
“Every community has its own unique needs and circumstances—and opportunities for expanding access to high-quality preschool programs,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “The innovative approaches funded with these tailored mixed-delivery grants will make a difference in the lives of children and their families.”
VECF will award approximately $250,000 each for two-year grant terms to ACT for Alexandria Early Care and Education Workgroup, the Early Learning Project at James Madison University’s College of Education, Rappahannock County Public Schools, United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, United Way of Roanoke Valley, and New River Valley Regional Commission.
“These communities, like many across the Commonwealth, recognize the critical importance of access to high-quality early childhood education for working families, both as a school readiness opportunity and a necessary workforce support,” said VECF President Kathy Glazer. “Engaging partners and identifying entrepreneurial solutions to deliver preschool services across public and private settings is a common-sense strategy for Virginia.”
The proposals receiving mixed-delivery preschool grants in 2019 are as follows:
ACT for Alexandria Early Care and Education Workgroup (Alexandria): The project will establish two new mixed-delivery classrooms, each with 18 children, in two currently underserved, high-need neighborhoods.
Early Learning Project, College of Education, James Madison University (Harrisonburg/Rockingham County): This grantee successfully expanded Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) slots in private settings in its prior project (Cohort 1, 2016). This project will continue the expansion by addressing additional barriers faced by private centers, with a concentration on building capacity to serve children who exhibit challenging behaviors. A total of 28 mixed delivery slots will be created by blending VPI funds and child care subsidy dollars.
Rappahannock County Public Schools (Rappahannock County): In response to the sudden closure of local Head Start services last year, the school division and a private center partnered to establish a temporary Pre-K alternative for children denied a Head Start experience. This project will solidify that partnership and seek public and private funds to create a permanent solution, including eight slots for four-year-olds with public funds and a 15-child classroom for three-year-olds with private funds.
United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area (Charlottesville/Albemarle County): This grantee will continue to expand the community’s mixed delivery capacity by establishing 30 new slots for four-year-olds in two private centers. The initiative expressly addresses the issue of underutilization of public Pre-K (VPI and Head Start) by targeting mixed-delivery innovations to the specific barriers identified by families who have previously declined participation in public programs.
United Way of Roanoke Valley (Cities of Roanoke and Salem; Counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, Franklin): This grantee will expand and strengthen its mixed delivery initiative in the City of Roanoke by establishing an additional 25 slots in private centers across its region, with a concentration on addressing additional barriers that hinder family access to preschool and private center participation in mixed delivery.
New River Valley Regional Commission (Counties of Montgomery, Pulaski, Giles, Floyd): The project will provide intensive professional development and quality improvement interventions to four private child care centers serving communities with high numbers of VPI-eligible children. The project will assist these centers in establishing relationships with various providers of early childhood family support services so that centers can connect families with critically-needed supports to improve the impact of early care and education.
For more information about VECF and the mixed delivery grant initiative, visit www.vecf.org.
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