HD22 - Early Childhood Financing Strategies (Chapter 510, 2021 SSI)

Executive Summary:

The Virginia Department of Education is building a comprehensive early childhood care and education (ECCE) system that prepares all children for kindergarten and ensures their parents can work, attend school, or pursue employment. Currently, 45% of Virginia children are entering kindergarten not ready in at least one of four areas: literacy, math, self-regulation or social skills. To address this, Virginia must unify and strengthen its ECCE system, use data to increase effectiveness, offer a wide array of affordable choices in public and private settings and support parents to choose the option that best meets their unique needs. All programs that take public funds benefit from measurement and supports for improvement, ensuring quality choices are available for all families, child outcomes improve and programs are rewarded for continual improvement. Importantly, noting that young children learn in the context of relationships with adults, educators must be adequately compensated to ensure a stable, high-performing workforce.

This report summarizes the history and context of Virginia’s early childhood system, including key financing strategies to support the systemic costs of high-quality child care services, ensure all parents can choose quality, adequately compensate educators to stabilize and sustain the workforce, and better prepare children for kindergarten. This report also offers preliminary data on a cost-of-quality model for the child care subsidy program, as required by Senate Bill 1316.