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Southwest Virginia gets in on early childhood grants

Staff report • Jun 19, 2017 at 12:17 PM

BRISTOL — Four Southwest Virginia jurisdictions have been included in a total of five Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) grants announced Friday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

VECF will award approximately $250,000 each to Smart Beginnings Southwest Virginia as well as the Fairfax County Office for Children, Fauquier County Public Schools, Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond and Total Action for Progress.

With significant waiting lists for the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) and Head Start services, the governor said Southwest Virginia jurisdictions will work together to improve the qualify of eight private child care and preschool providers in Carroll, Russell and Tazewell counties and the city of Bristol.

Smart Beginnings Southwest Virginia will coordinate those efforts with Virginia Quality to provide high quality professional development, McAuliffe said.

“If Virginia is going to lead in the global economy of the future, we must prepare our students to succeed as early as possible. These grants will support communities across the commonwealth as they develop innovative local solutions to increase access to the Virginia Preschool Initiative for at-risk children,” he said.

“By investing in quality preschool education for these children, we can create new opportunity for families in every corner of the commonwealth and continue our efforts to build a new Virginia economy.”

The initial cohort of grantees was announced last August. Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent said state authorities “are excited to support and learn from another cohort of Virginia communities as they challenge us to think differently and collaboratively about how we prepare young children for school and life success.

“These pilots will continue to inform other statewide efforts, like the School Readiness Committee, to ensure all Virginia children start school healthy and ready to learn.”

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