|Brad Armstrong Supports Early Education Goals of VA Chamber's Blueprint Virginia|
In a letter to the editor of the Richmond Times Dispatch, Brad Armstrong, Partner with the Martin Agency, endorses the Virginia Chamber of Commerce's Blueprint Virginia. In particular he discusses the impact of early childhood education and school readiness on our Commonwealth's economic competitiveness. Armstrong serves on the Leadership Council for Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond.
Read Armstrong's Letter to the Editor, Richmond Times Dispatch
|Early Childhood Education Highlighted in VA Chamber of Commerce's "Blueprint Virginia" |
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce unveiled "Blueprint Virginia", its strategic vision for the Commonwealth's economy. Early childhood education is highlighted as one of the goals in this statewide plan. The business community is supportive of efforts to expand access to high quality preschools to help improve workforce development in the Commonwealth.
Read article from The Roanoke Times.
|Raising the Bar on Literacy - Editorial, The Roanoke Times|
This editorial discusses the Nation's latest reading and math scores just released in the Nation's Report Card from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. While the Commonwealth's marks are slightly above the national averages, thanks in part to support from state leaders, Virginia's business community, and other private resources, ongoing investment is crucial to ensure Virginia remain competitive in a global economy. The work of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and Smart Beginnings is part of the vital effort to improve Virginia's scores.
Read The Roanoke Times Editorial
|SB Greater Roanoke Leader & Community College President named "Citizen of the Year"|
Dr. Robert Sandel, President of Virginia Western Community College, has been recognized as Roanoke's 2013 Citizen of the Year. He recently oversaw the successful completion of the Fralin Center opening opportunities for people to train for jobs in health care, a dominant industry in the valley. Sandel also offers strong support for early childhood learning as a member, and a past chairman, of the steering committee for Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke.
Read more about Dr. Sandel's honor as Roanoke's "Citizen of the Year."
|Roanoke Times Editorial on Smart Beginnings' Oct. 21 Program at Hotel Roanoke|
Industry leaders, local government officials, state legislators and educators from Southwest Virginia gathered at Hotel Roanoke on October 21st for "Building Our Region's Workforce: One Reader at a Time." Presenters included Dr. Michael Friedlander of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Ralph Smith of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Friedlander shared research on brain development and how it relates to early education, which ultimately leads to academic excellence and future prosperity for our young children. Smith spoke about the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, in which the Roanoke region participates.
Read the Roanoke Times editorial.
|Smart Beginnings Hosted Business Lunch & Program for Roanoke Region|
On October 21st, the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke hosted "Building Our Region's Workforce: One Reader at a Time" at Hotel Roanoke drawing business leaders from the region. Ralph Smith, one of the nation's top literacy advocates addressed participants. Smith is a Senior Vice President and the Managing Director for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading with the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Watch Smith's interview with WDBJ7.
|Beth Rhinehart on Smart Beginnings & Future Success of Children|
Beth Rhinehart, Director of Government Relations for Wellmont Health System in Bristol, VA, wrote an op editorial on Smart Beginnings and the future success of children in the Southwest region. Published in the Bristol Herald Courier on October 2nd, this article discusses the importance of early education and regional collaboration to ensure young citizens in their region have access to quality school readiness experiences and every opportunity for success in the classroom, the workforce and in life. Rhinehart is a member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.
Beth Rhinehart's Op Ed in Bristol Herald Courier.
|VECF Welcomes Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore to Network of Partners|
Young children and their families on the Eastern Shore will benefit from a new school readiness initiative launched in the region through a partnership with the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and grants from the PNC Foundation.
Read article on Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore.
|Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond Honored with History Makers Award|
Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond will be honored at the Valentine Richmond History Center 2013 History Makers Awards on October 15th for its work to raise public engagement and will for early childhood development.
View WRIC 8 News Clip.
|Paul Koonce Discusses School Readiness & Investments in Young Learners in Richmond Times Dispatch|
In the Richmond Times Dispatch, Paul Koonce, Dominion Virginia Power CEO, discusses the importance of investing in school readiness as a strategy for ensuring Virginia's workforce and economic prosperity.
Read Paul Koonce's Op Ed in the RTD.
|Dr. Robert Sandel's School Readiness Op Ed featured in Roanoke Times|
Dr. Robert Sandel's Op Ed on school readiness was featured in The Roanoke Times as students of all ages head back to school and campus. Dr. Sandel is President of Virginia Western Community College and member of the the Leadership Council of Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke. He discusses the benefits of quality early learning initiatives and how early childhood development affects Virginia's workforce development.
Read Dr. Sandel's Op Ed in The Roanoke Times.
|Richmond Fed President on Workforce Skills Gap Advocating Early Childhood Education as One Solution|
Jeffrey Lacker, President of the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond recently discussed the state of the US economy in an interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch. When asked to discuss why he believes widely available and affordable early childhood education is one solution to the workforce skills gap, he explains, “If you look at the research on skills and human capital…it indicates that the earlier you intervene, the earlier you provide help, the bigger the payoff.”
Read more in the Richmond Times Dispatch article.
|Virginia Educators Meet to Share Ideas and Techniques|
Video clip of the Smart Beginnings Leader Institute which kicked off on Tuesday July, 30th in Charlottesville. Dr. John Thomas, Center Director of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at UVA and member of the VECF Advisors Council, provided the welcome to participants.
View the CBS 19 News Clip.
|Area NRV Leaders Selected to Participate in Smart Beginnings Leader Institute|
Several Leaders from the New River Valley were selected to participate in the Smart Beginnings Leader Institute which kicked off on July 30th. Those leaders are David Moore, Coordinator-Smart Beginnings New River Valley; Kristi Snyder, Administrator-Rainbow Riders Childcare Center, and Delegate Joseph Yost, representing the 12th district.
|Smart Beginnings Leader Institute Focuses on Early Learning|
The July 30th Leader Institute inaugural meeting at the LexisNexis building in downtown Charlottesville marked the launch of the Smart Beginnings Leader Institute. The seven-month series emphasizes locally driven systems of high quality early childhood care, education and health services.
Read The Daily Progress article.
|Delegate Joseph Yost Represents NRV at Leader Institute|
Delegate Joseph Yost is one of several area leaders chosen to represent the New River Valley at the inaugural Smart Beginnings Leader Institute, which kicked off on July 30th in Charlottesville. Read more about his thoughts on the importance of early childhood development in the recent Southwest Times article.
Read The Southwest Times article featuring Delegate Yost.
|Charlottesville NBC29 Features Smart Beginnings Leader Institute News Clip|
More than 50 leaders from across the Commonwealth gathered in Charlottesville on July 30th to kick off the new Smart Beginnings Leader Institute for early childhood education.
View NBC29 News Clip.
|Quality Pre-K: July 7th Roanoke Times Editorial by Drs. Craig and Sharon Ramey|
Drs. Craig and Sharon Ramey recently wrote an editorial in the Roanoke Times focused on quality Pre-K and its impact on Virginia's future quality of life. They are distinguished scholars of human development at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and professors psychology, pediatrics and psychiatry at Virginia Tech and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. The Rameys also serve on VECF's newly formed Advisors Council.
Read Roanoke Times Editorial
|Southwest Virginia Receives $220,000 VSQI Funding Boost |
A partnership between United Way Virginia Highlands and Smart Beginnings will help bring improvements to child care centers across the Southwest Region. The local United Way received a $220,000 grant through the Virginia Department of Social Services which will fund the VSQI program through Smart Beginnings.
Read Bristol Herald Courier Article.
Read Washington County News Article.
|J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College President Elected to VECF Board|
Dr. Gary L. Rhodes, President of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Va was elected to the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation's Board of Directors on June 12th. Dr. Rhodes' experience in higher education offers a unique perspective on the link between early childhood development and the workforce pipeline.
|Editorial Highlights Early Childhood as Smart Policy, Not Political Sound Bite|
|New VECF Officers and Board Members featured in RTD's Metro Business|
VECF's newly elected officers and board members were featured in the Metro Business section in the June 24th issue of the Richmond Times Dispatch.
|VECF President Participating in UVA Conference on Educational Measurements|
This conference will bring together active Pre-K-12 teachers and administrators from Virginia with educational researchers from across the country focused on effective teaching, and student growth and learning. The conference will take place on June 20-21 at the University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL).
|Richmond Fed's Research Director Joins VECF Board|
John Weinberg, senior vice president and director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, was elected to the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation’s board of directors at their annual meeting on June 12th. Weinberg offers his voice and perspectives on early childhood education and its role in enhancing the economic vitality of communities.
|Prince William Chamber 2013 Summit Focuses on Early Childhood Education|
Kendra Kielbasa, director of Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William, shared statistics on the number of children in Prince William who will enter kindergarten unprepared to learn. She was joined by Dalena Kanouse, a member of the Board of Directors for Smart Beginnings Prince William, whose message centered on the business case for investing in early childhood education. Dr. Mark Ginsberg, Dean of George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development and VECF Board Member, addressed the importance of quality, affordable access to early childhood education for all children.
To read more about the Summit, visit the Prince William Chamber of Commerce article.
|Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area’s K-Registration Event Registers Hundreds|
On April 23rd, Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area helped register 509 students at 37 elementary schools across three school divisions as Phase I of their “Ready Freddy” kindergarten registration promotion. In August, Phase II will pilot a community kindergarten orientation day in one elementary school in each of the five school divisions.
To learn more, visit the Free Lance Star article.
|Kings Dominion and Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond Launch Early Learning Messages at Planet Snoopy|
A unique partnership with Kings Dominion and Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond resulted in the installation of early learning messages in the new Planet Snoopy area of the park turning it into a place where families can understand the importance of early childhood learning while riding rides and enjoying the park. Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond helped launch the new Planet Snoopy on April 24, 2013.
Click here for images of the early learning messages.
|Williamsburg Pre-School and Child Development Center Expansion Turns Focus on Quality|
The Kensington School, a pre-school and child development center in Williamsburg, VA, recognizes the importance of quality early education by applying to participate in the Virginia Star Quality Initiative. A new 2,000 square-foot expansion in January gave the pre-school, which serves children 6 weeks to age 5, additional capacity to serve families in their community.
Read Virginia Gazette article.
|Investments in Education May Be Misdirected|
New York Times Economic Scene Business article by Eduardo Porter discusses Investment in early childhood education.
|Smart Beginnings Looks to Regional Model|
VECF and United Way Virginia Highlands partner to build a regional system of support and operations for local Smart Beginnings Initiatives. This new regional system was highlighted online at SWVA Today/Tricities.com.
View article here to learn more.
|Smart Beginnings Virginia Highlands Hosted Inaugural Pre-K Fair: 130 Registered for Pre-K Screenings|
On March 19th, Smart Beginnings Virginia Highlands hosted an inaugural Pre-K Fair in partnership with United Way Virginia Highlands. The fair served nearly 130 people who registered for Pre-K screenings in both Washington County, Virginia schools and Bristol, Virginia schools. While the pre-screening appointments do not guarantee placement, it allows for speedier enrollment.
Read press release here to learn more about the Inaugural Pre-K Fair.
|Thomas N. Chewning, VECF Board Chair, is featured in RTD's Metro Business Cover Article|
Tom Chewning's community endeavors - including his push for early childhood education - are highlighted in this Metro Business article.
Read the article here.
|Paul Koonce, CEO, Dominion Virginia Power, Highlights Connection Between ECD & Workforce Development|
In partnership with the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Paul Koonce discusses how important early childhood development is to the region's economic prosperity.
Read the GRCC article here.
|Richmond Times Dispatch Op Ed on Investing in Early Childhood Development|
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's Chief Operating Officer, Sally Green, wrote an article on how early investment in childhood development helps kids and the Commonwealth.
Click here to read Sally Green's Op Ed
The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment technical team is exploring instruments and practices utilized in other states to determine the best tool(s) and methodology for Virginia. Assessment representatives from a number of local school divisions are assisting with the exploration, supporting the opportunity to identify practices that will be of most value to kindergarten teachers, school administrators and families. As well, the team understands the potential value of a more robust benchmark for entering kindergarteners to policymakers.
A working paper guides the team’s discussions (download pdf
Recently, Catherine Scott Little (download a pdf of her bio
) presented information to VECF’s board of directors and met with the KRA technical team to share valuable information about trends and practices in other states (download PowerPoint
|Smart Beginnings Coalitions: Public/Private Problem Solvers|
Why is the development of these public-private coalitions so important? By forming effective partnership approaches, communities are able to imbed leadership, a team/network approach, and shared accountability to collective focus to ensure school readiness. Smart Beginnings communities have the structure, capacity, and will for a sustained, long-term effort to promote the school readiness of children, thereby laying the foundation for a strong workforce, healthy economy, and community prosperity.
Since 2007, VECF has fostered the creation of 29 Smart Beginnings coalitions, covering more than 100 cities/counties and encompassing 87% of Virginia’s population. These coalitions are the cornerstone of the early childhood system in the state. VECF sets clear and consistent performance measures, documents gains and efficiencies, and works with coalitions to identify and track key indicators of school readiness at the child, school, and community level.
Click the image below to download a pdf of the Risks and Results chart.
|VECF Launches Newly Affirmed Strategic Directions|
In January 2012, Kathy Glazer joined VECF as executive director. During the spring of 2012, the organization conducted a series of thoughtful strategy sessions and one-on-one meetings to examine its mission, goals, processes and outcomes, as well as to chart a course for the future.
With this plan in place, VECF will function as an innovative, collaborative and results-oriented entity and establish itself as the non-partisan steward and capacity builder for advancing school readiness in the Commonwealth.
Click here to download a copy of our strategic directions
Click here to download a PowerPoint presentation of the plan
|Dan River Region Child Care Centers To Go Through Rating Process|
The Virginia Star Quality Initiative is expanding to the Danville region. Nine early childhood programs have volunteered to participate in this quality rating and improvement system. read more ...
|Babies Are Smarter Than You Think|
In a recent CNN article, Professor Alison Gopnik explores the complicated minds of infants. She explains how science supports the need for improved early childhood systems and emphasizes that children learn through play.
"The scientific work on the way babies learn demonstrates that neglecting our youngest children is self-destructive. Our moral intuition ought to tell us it's just plain wrong." read more ...
|Child Care Costs are Killing Us|
CNN Money spotlights the struggles of twelve families as they deal with the rising costs of child care and preschool. In Virginia, the average annual cost of full time care for an infant is over $9,600. read more ...
|Preschool Funding for Kids Now Pays Off Billions Later|
A new report promotes an increase in preschool enrollment worldwide. The analysis found that middle- and low-income countries could see a return of $6-$17 for every dollar invested in preschool. “Early childhood is the most effective and cost-effective time to ensure that all children develop to their full potential,” noted Patrice Engle, of California Polytechnic State University. read more ...
|Does the Future of Education Start with Pre-K?|
Experts agree that pre-k needs to be incorporated into our existing K-12 education system. This clip from MSNBC features Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association. read more ...
|Rethinking Pre-K: 5 Ways to Fix Preschool|
Time Magazine's article summarizes progress that has been made surrounding early childhood education and the current state of pre-k. It also features the Pew Charitable Trust's recommendations for improving the nation's prekindergarten system. read more ...
|Study finds NC Child Care Generates $1.7 Billion in Revenue and 49,600 Jobs|
A new report from Smart Start & the North Carolina Partnership for Children examines the crucial role that child care plays to the state's economy. Often overlooked, child care actually accounts for more jobs than nursing facilities and real estate. read more ...
|Doing What’s Best for Children, Right from the Start|
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan blogs about the importance of starting early for NBC's Education Nation. He explains what the Department of Education is doing now to improve early learning, and what is left to be done. read more ...
|Getting a Jump Start on School|
Smart Beginnings Martinsville Henry County partnered with local health organizations to hold an event to promote school readiness. Local officials are working to make sure parents are aware of the kinds of skills their children need before they begin kindergarten. The event offered free developmental assessments for children and educated parents on local resources. read more ...
|Why Pre-K Needs to be a Capitol Concern|
The NIEER blogs about a new research brief from Timothy Bartik and the Partnership for America's Economic Success, which explains how early childhood education supports business growth and job creation. This new research makes a strong case for both the short- and long-term benefits of quality early education programs for students, parents, employers, and taxpayers. read more ...
|School Readiness Tips on "Virginia This Morning"|
Scott Hippert, President of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, and Barbara Couto Sipe of Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond, appeared on CBS's morning show today to discuss school readiness. read more ...
|Pre-school Still is Key for Children|
Once upon a time, in an era far, far away, children went to kindergarten to prepare for first grade. Kindergarten was their first school experience, their prep for elementary school. Now, children need to go to pre-school to prepare for kindergarten. read more ...
|Investing in Early Learning Will Spur Economic Growth|
The president of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children promotes early childhood investment as a fiscally responsible way to reduce deficits and generate long-term gains for children and taxpayers. Over a lifetime, children who are exposed to high-quality early learning will be healthier, more self-sufficient and less likely to enter the criminal justice system. read more ...
|UVA Assessment Helps Build Better Child Care|
The Virginia Star Quality Initiative is utilizing the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) to improve child care programs across the Commonwealth.
Gardiner and her staff have been trained to use the CLASS instrument to rate each of the centers, and use the information gathered to develop a two-year, quality-improvement plan and provide mentoring with the aim of raising future scores. read more ...
|Study: 1 in 5 American Children Lives in Poverty|
On Wednesday, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a national study on child well-being. Researchers found that found that 14.7 million children are living in povety--2.5 million more than in 2000. Low-income children are more likely to suffer academically, economically and socially throughout their lives. read more ...
|School Readiness Takes More than a Weekend|
This weekend, families across the commonwealth will take advantage of the state's annual sales tax holiday to purchase back-to-school supplies for their children. But there's so much more to being ready for school — especially kindergarten — than walking into the classroom with a new outfit and backpack. read more ...
|Home-Based Provider Takes Part in Pilot Program|
A Goochland child care provider was a member of a pilot program to improve child care services in home based settings. From last December through July 1, Helen Payne, who operates Glory Home Child Care Preschool in her home in western Goochland, was part of the Virginia Star Quality Initiative’s statewide pilot program. read more ...
Smart Beginnings Heartland, Smart Beginnings Northumberland Lancaster and Smart Beginnings Fluvanna Louisa received funding to ensure that children in these areas will enter school prepared and ready to learn. read more ...
|Study Highlights the 25-Year Impact of a Chicago PreK-3rd Program |
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more solid case for the importance of good early education: A study published late last week by Science shows that attendance at the Chicago Parent-Child Centers – a program designed to extend from pre-k through 3rd grade in the inner city’s public schools – is connected to a person’s success in life 25 years later. read more ...
|Preschool Readiness Camp Kicks Off in Danville|
Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania hosted its first School Readiness Camp. The day camp is for children who did not attend preschool in order to teach them the skills they will need to start kindergarten. The coalition was able to offer this camp after receiving a $5.4 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation earlier this year. read more ...
|Dominion Foundation gives $100,000 to Southwest Virginia|
The Dominion Foundation awarded a grant to support the Southwest Regional School Readiness Initiative of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. The resources will be used to expand high quality early learning initiatives to ensure that young children in the Southwest Virginia region, ages 0-5, are well-prepared to be successful in school and, ultimately, in the future workforce.
read more ...
|U.Va. Research Reveals Positive Impact of State-Funded Preschools|
Children who participate in preschool programs funded through the Virginia Preschool Initiative improve their performance in kindergarten and first grade, researchers at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education have found.
The study, conducted by senior scientist Francis Huang and Marcia Invernizzi, Henderson Professor of Education, is the first peer-reviewed analysis of the effectiveness of the Virginia Preschool Initiative program. Created in 1996, the program provides programs for at-risk 4-year-olds that include preschool education, health and social services, and transportation. read more ...
|Will Business Buy In to Early Childhood Education?|
A recently released study of 1,000 poor children who benefited from Chicago’s Child-Parent Center Education Program (which includes intensive preschool, parent training and support for students through third grade), suggests that every dollar spent on the program yielded nearly $11 to society, including increased tax revenue and reduced spending on child welfare, special education and grade retention. read more ...
|Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater Details Year’s Accomplishments|
Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater held a community breakfast at Paul D. Camp Community College last week. At the event, Ellen Couch, executive director, explained the importance of investing in early childhood and reported on the coalition's many accomplishments from the past year. read more ...
|Virginia's K Transition Efforts Highlighted|
A new brief from the Harvard Family Research Project highlights promising practices in Virginia and five other states. The strong efforts of Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond are summarized in this paper, which provides recommendations to policymakers for supporting these innovations.
Download a pdf of the brief here
"Given that early social performance and academic achievement are predictors of later school success, it is imperative that children get off to a good start in kindergarten. In this brief, Christine Patton and Justina Wang, from Harvard Family Research Project, look at ways of helping to make the transition into kindergarten a positive experience that will serve as a foundation to help children reach their full potential throughout their school years. The brief highlights promising practices in six states—New Jersey, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Virginia, and California—where local- and state-level leadership support a variety of initiatives to ensure successful transitions into kindergarten."
|VECF Wins National Award for Strategies to Advance Early Childhood Initiatives |
The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation won a First Place trophy in the national 2011 Nonprofit PR Awards sponsored by PR News, a provider of media relations tools and tactics for professional communicators. The entry, VECF Reaches New Audiences with Strategic PR
, was awarded top honors in the “PR on a Shoestring” category. read more ...
|Deficit Reduction: Not at the Cost of Our Children|
An article in the Huffington Post explains why budget cuts for early childhood programs are not in the best interest for our nation.
'Dr. Heckman may say it best, "It is a natural reaction to cut spending when faced with a budget deficit. Make no mistake, reducing spending in some areas in necessary and warranted. However, when one has dug themselves into a hole, the solution is not to stop digging as much as to start digging the hand and toe holds that facilitate climbing out. Investing in early childhood education is that hand and toe hold." read more ...