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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF), in consultation with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), will award four 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 fourth cohort of mixed-delivery grantees since 2016. This year, VECF and VDOE are also funding planning grants and technical assistance to two communities preparing to receive a possible Mixed-Delivery Preschool Grant in the future.
“Providing every single child in our Commonwealth with a strong foundation for future learning is one of the highest priorities of my administration,” said Governor Northam. “This grant funding represents our continued commitment to making smart investments in our youngest Virginians and will also support our work with diverse public and private partners to ensure we can effectively serve children and families in all of our communities.”
“Access to high quality early childhood education levels the playing field for children who have grown up in environments that inhibit healthy development and make learning more difficult,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These grants support communities as they meet the unique needs of families in ways that address the holistic needs of the young learners and equip them to succeed later in life.”
VECF will award approximately $250,000 each for two-year grant terms to the Henrico Education Foundation, the Town of New Market, United Way of Central Virginia, and United Way of Southwest Virginia.
“These grants build upon existing community-based child care programs to expand access to high-quality preschool for children who would otherwise go unserved,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “Investments like this are essential if we are to make progress in narrowing and ultimately closing achievement gaps.”
“School readiness happens locally,” said VECF President Kathy Glazer. “We are proud to learn from communities as we strive to ensure that families have equitable access to quality early care and education for their children, no matter where they live.”
VECF is also awarding six-month planning grants and technical assistance to Gloucester County Public Schools and Hampton Roads Community Action Program to support their preparation for a possible Mixed-Delivery Preschool Grant Program award in the future.
The proposals receiving mixed-delivery preschool grants are as follows:
Henrico Education Foundation (Henrico County)
This initiative will provide preschool services for up to 16 four-year-olds each year over two years, in up to four private community-based child care centers. These centers are located in underserved, high needs neighborhoods, including those with high populations of English-language learners.
Town of New Market (Shenandoah and Page Counties)
In a town that until recently had no licensed child care center and a county without a center that accepts child care subsidy, this initiative will provide high quality preschool for 12 to 14 four-year-olds each year in a newly established private/community-based center. The initiative enjoys broad support from many stakeholders in the region and is supported by the town’s desire to provide child care as an economic development strategy for local businesses.
United Way of Central Virginia (City of Lynchburg)
In collaboration with the local community action agency, a home visiting program will provide Head Start preschool and family support and engagement services for up to 30 preschoolers over the project period in a private child care setting.
United Way of Southwest Virginia (Buchanan County and City of Norton)
In response to a regional 2018 report, “Early Childhood Risk & Protective Factor Mapping” and with Appalachian Regional Commission funding, the grantee recently helped establish family child care businesses in underserved high-need communities. This Mixed-Delivery Preschool Grant program initiative will provide year-round child care during the day and during non-traditional hours for 24 four-year-olds in up to four family child care homes.
For more information about VECF and the mixed-delivery grant initiative, visit www.vecf.org.
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