RD221 - Virginia Early Childhood Foundation Annual Report 2013 and Financial Statements for the Fiscal Year July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013

Executive Summary:
What is our goal?

Promoting the school readiness of Virginia’s young children.

Why is school readiness so important?

A child’s experiences during the earliest years have the potential to impact the trajectory of his or her entire life. When a child is born with risks, such as low birth weight, or to a mother who has not completed high school, or in a family living in poverty, positive interactions with caring parents and adults and access to high quality care and learning environments can buffer those risks. Children in supportive families, living in communities where there is access to health care and responsive caregivers, are better prepared for kindergarten. Children who are better prepared are able to make the most of school once they arrive and remain motivated to be successful throughout their lives.

Why does school readiness matter to Virginians?

School readiness produces economic and social benefits including a productive workforce for Virginia. To learn more, see Early Childhood Development and Returns on Investment.

What is VECF’s charge?

Virginia’s Appropriation Act charges VECF, through a contract with the Virginia Department of Social Services, to support communities across the state as they develop proactive systems to promote school readiness for all children in Virginia, and to leverage one local or private dollar for every dollar of the state funding.

Is VECF a good steward of the charge and funds?

• Invested in 30 Smart Beginnings school readiness initiatives, encompassing nearly 100 counties and cities and 90% of the state’s population

• Operated with general administration costs at under 7% of total expenses

• Exceeded required ratio, leveraging $4 for every $1 of state funding

• Nearly $6 million were attracted by the $1.5 million appropriation from state general funds.

How does VECF bring added value to the Commonwealth?

In addition to Smart Beginnings, VECF:

• Tracks and reports benchmarks of progress at the state and local levels, bringing accountability to investments in early childhood development.

• Co-administers the Virginia Star Quality Initiative, a voluntary program to support the quality and stability of all types of child care and early learning programs. Star ratings inform parents about the quality of care options.

• Tests a comprehensive kindergarten assessment tool in kindergarten classrooms across the state. Kindergarten teachers piloting the GOLD assessment get the benefit of rich information about each child’s diverse skills and abilities, better supporting effective instruction.

• Partners with business leaders to promote the workforce and economic benefits of investment in school readiness, and to bring investment and innovation to Virginia’s early childhood efforts.

What difference does Smart Beginnings make for children, schools and communities?

A growing number of children are arriving at kindergarten healthy and ready to learn. Prepared students are on a path to third grade reading proficiency and school, workforce, and life success. Smart Beginnings communities track and document indicators of increased school readiness such as:

• Improved kindergarten literacy scores

• Reduced rates of need for reading intervention services (resulting in lowered costs for intervention)

• Reduced rates of children repeating early grades (resulting in lowered costs for grade retention)

• Improved standardized test scores in third grade