The commonwealth of Virginia received a one-year $9.9 million dollar federal grant for early childhood education. The grant will include funds to help develop a statewide needs assessment and strategic plan, funds to align early learning standards and funds for kindergarten-readiness tools.
“Every child in Virginia is capable of entering kindergarten ready with the skills they need to succeed in school, regardless of who they are or where they live,” First Lady of Virginia Pamela Northam said in a news release. “This grant will enable our innovative local leaders and teachers to build skills, engage families in their children’s learning and development, and measure progress all while being financially rewarded for their efforts.”
About $4 million will go directly toward early childhood educators in 10 communities to fund initiatives that will unify preschool, daycare and Head Start at the local level. Head Start is a federally funded school readiness program that assists children five years old or younger from low-income families. Teachers and other leaders will be given financial incentives at the end of the grant if they agree to participate in training, improve quality and strengthen standards.
Virginia also work with the 10 local communities and two other partners: the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the University of Virginia.
The local communities will conduct focus groups and surveys, which the Department of Education will use to help craft its practices. VECF will assist Virginia in managing the community pilots, the strategic plans and the needs assessments and UVA will assist in evaluating classrooms, improving quality and assess effectiveness.
“Working closely with partners and local communities, Virginia can strengthen teaching, more deeply engage families and increase the number of children who enter kindergarten with the skills needed to be successful,” State Superintendent of Instruction Dr. James Lane said in a press release.