On June 24, the Alexandria City Council approved $300,000 in funding for the City’s early care and education programs. This funding will help ensure that all families who need child care can access it and that all preschool children can receive a quality early education that adequately prepares them for kindergarten. The Council’s action also supports Governor Timothy M. Kaine’s commitment to providing access to high-quality preschool for more of Virginia’s four-year-olds.
The funding will provide $130,000 for additional slots for at-risk four-year-olds not eligible for child care assistance; $50,000 to continue a pilot of the Governor’s Quality Rating and Improvement System; $90,000 to purchase and implement an early childhood education curriculum in family child care homes; and $30,000 to fund professional development opportunities for staff working in child care centers.
Last year in Alexandria, parents of 264 children reported that their children had not participated in a preschool experience prior to entering kindergarten. With the additional funding, more children will be able to benefit from a preschool education. The funds will also support Alexandria’s participation in the second year of the pilot of Governor Kaine’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), which assesses quality in public or private early childhood programs, and assigns them a rating from one to five stars. The ratings offer parents more information about early childhood programs and will encourage quality improvement in all of Virginia’s preschools.
Although participation in QRIS is voluntary, it is expected to eventually become a requirement for programs that receive state pre-K funds.
The funds will also finance a one-year pilot program to improve quality and standardize the content of programs offered in home-based care by 1) purchasing a curriculum designed specifically for use in home-based care, and 2) training 10 family child care providers to implement the curriculum. Professional development opportunities will also be provided to staff working in child care centers and other quality efforts will be undertaken, such as accreditation and post-secondary scholarships.
“Early care and education sets the stage for all future learning,”
said Mayor William D. Euille. “We are committed to providing access to high quality early care and education programs [because] research indicates that children are more likely to acquire the skills they need to enter kindergarten ready to learn and better adjust to new learning and social environments.”