September 2023 Email Update
VA SEES UNPRECEDENTED CHILD CARE DEMAND AS FEDERAL FUNDS BEGIN TO EXPIRE
Leveraging temporary federal COVID relief funds, Virginia has increased year-over-year child care investments and substantially expanded access to child care services to meet record family demand. This culminated in an additional $309 million in child care funding in Virginia compared to 2019, with the vast majority of the new funding—$275 million—coming from temporary federal sources.
While Virginia saw a 41 percent increase in enrollment in the Commonwealth's publicly funded early childhood system since 2020, many families still cannot access high quality child care. In fact, approximately half of eligible preschoolers in Virginia lack access to publicly funded early childhood education. This unmet need is greatest among the youngest Virginians, with more than 90 percent of eligible infants and toddlers lacking access to child care.
There is no doubt that Virginia has made remarkable strides in expanding child care access and choice, meeting family demand, improving the quality of child care services, and stabilizing the child care sector. But the vast majority of new funding that made this progress possible has come from temporary federal sources that begin expiring in the coming year. And with no additional child care funding included in amendments to the 2023-2024 state budget signed into law on September 14, significant expansion of child care access will be reversed. Without action, early childhood classrooms will close and families will be turned away – causing parents to exit the workforce or reduce hours and kids to miss out on key skill-building opportunities to prepare them for a lifetime of success.
Policymakers must allocate stable, predictable, and robust state funding on an annual basis that reflects and responds to parent demand and ensures family choice. The Virginia Promise Partnership will be working to advocate for these critical funds leading up to the 2024 General Assembly session, and we need your help to support and amplify our efforts!
Be on the lookout for more opportunities to engage with VPP advocacy in the weeks and months ahead to help secure important long-term investments in Virginia's child care system!
SCAN, VPP HOST FIRST ANNUAL VIRGINIA ADVOCACY SUMMIT
On September 30, coalition member organization Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) in collaboration with VPP hosted the first annual Virginia State Advocacy Summit. The event convened child care advocates, including parents, providers, educators, and community leaders, from across the Commonwealth for a series of thoughtful remarks, panel discussions, and hands-on training to hone their advocacy skills.
SCAN Executive Director Christy Gleason shared opening remarks, underscoring that "every child deserves a strong start in life, and we know the work isn't done." The event included a panel on Virginia's child care landscape featuring policymaker, parent, and provider voices. Attendees also participated in strategic trainings on speaking with the media, telling your story, crafting an impactful letter to the editor, leveraging your network for effective organizing, and building strong relationships with candidates and legislators.
These key advocacy skills are more important than ever as we look ahead to Virginia's November elections and the 2024 General Assembly session beginning in January.
State Sen. Ghazala Hashmi joins Summit participants following a panel discussion on Virginia's child care landscape. Sen. Hashmi serves as Chair of the Senate Education and Health Public Education Subcommittee.
The Virginia Promise Partnership together with member organization the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy compiled a collection of firsthand stories highlighting the ongoing child care struggles faced by parents and families across the Commonwealth. Read the full 'Parents Speak Up!' storybook here!
Interested in sharing your story? Contact us as firstname.lastname@example.org!
NEW CHILD CARE ROI REPORT RELEASED AT ECCE COMMISSION'S THIRD MEETING
Virginia's Commission on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) held its third meeting on September 28 at Reynolds Community College Workforce Development and Conference Center in Richmond. The newly formed Commission is charged with providing recommendations for and tracking progress on the financing of Virginia’s comprehensive birth-to-five early childhood care and education system.
During the third meeting, Commission members heard from Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Executive Director of Vanderbilt University’s Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center. Dr. Osborne shared findings from a new report on the value of child care investments in Virginia. The report found that the additional $309 million invested in the past year will generate a return of at least $364.3 million from increased family earnings and disposable income in the next year alone. At least $30.4 million of this new income will go directly back to the state in the form of new state tax revenue.
Moreover, the report found that the additional $309 million will generate at least $778 million in combined cost savings and economic benefits over the lifetime of the 11,151 children who receive care because of the investment. These benefits come in the form of increased employment, decreased child poverty, increased state tax revenue, improved school readiness, and child care industry stabilization, among other impacts. The report notes that predicted cost savings and benefits are almost certainly a significant underestimate, because they do not include the savings from poverty reduction and child maltreatment, or the economic impact of the investment on school-age children.
The Commission is set to release recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly in the coming days. More information on the Commission's membership, meeting schedule, and history can be viewed through the Secretary of Education's website here and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) website here.