Early Childhood in the News

Virginia Early Childhood Foundation Expands Access to Early Childhood Education

Richmond, VA – Early childhood education plays a vital role in ensuring that children have the best chance to reach their academic potential and contributes to the overall well-being of families and communities. The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) knows this and is working to expand access to early childhood education across Virginia through their Smart Beginnings initiative.

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Huntington Ingalls Industries' CEO Stresses Importance of Investing Early in Education

Mike Petters, CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, Virginia's largest manufacturing company, delivers remarks at the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Workforce Conference, "For us to keep our economy strong and to remain competitive on this global stage, we must invest in education at the very beginning.

Read More.


"Smart Beginnings for Southside Families" Tour Through Southside VA

As part of VECF's W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded initiative "Smart Beginnings for Southside Families" site visits took place in Danville, Emporia and Martinsville in mid September. This unique dual-generation program will serve 100 families in the cities of Martinsville, Danville and Emporia, and Henry, Pittsylvania, Brunswick, Greensville and Sussex Counties. Read more about the trip through Southside Virginia in this article from the Martinsville Bulletin.

Read Martinsville Bulletin article.


Smart Beginnings Central Virginia Helping Parents Choose Quality Preschool

Great coverage on ABC13 WSET-TV about Smart Beginnings Central Virginia’s efforts to help parents understand and find quality preschool for their children

Read More. 

Early Education Touted as Economic Boon - Smart Beginnings Job One Harrisonburg

Nearly 50 Shenandoah Valley business leaders gathered Wednesday in Harrisonburg to hear why investment in early childhood education builds a better workforce for tomorrow.  Participants heard from early childhood expert, Dr. Craig Ramey and Wells Fargo Vice President, Monica Matherly on the importance of early childhood education and the work of Smart Beginnings.

Read Daily News Record Article. 

Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond Coordinates April 15th Region Wide Kindergarten Registration

Fifteen school systems in the Greater Richmond area offer region wide Kindergarten Registration Day on April 15th.  This coordinated kindergarten registration is promoted by Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond and the United Way Greater Richmond.

Read Richmond Times-Dispatch article. 

Del. Tag Greason and VECF Board Member Paul Koonce on Early Lessons for Education Reform

Delegate Tag Greason and Dominion Executive Vice President Paul Koonce co-authored an opinion piece, "At the Starting Gate: Early Lessons for Education Reform" published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

Read Op Ed.


VECF President Kathy Glazer Chosen for YWCA Richmond's 2015 Outstanding Women Awards

VECF President Kathy Glazer chosen for the 2015 Outstanding Women Awards by the YWCA of Richmond for Nonprofit Management.  The awards will be presented at the April 24th luncheon to be held at the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce. 

Read more.


New River and Roanoke Valley Business Leaders Attend Smart Beginnings VA Job One Event

Article on business leader support for quality early learning as the foundation for Virginia’s workforce success in The Roanoke Star.  Nearly 100 business leaders from the New River and Roanoke Valley region attended on November 12th to learn more from speaker Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.  The event was hosted by Smart Beginnings New River Valley and Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke and held at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

Read The Roanoke Star article.


Mike Petters, Huntington Ingalls Industries CEO, Shares Thoughts on Preschool

On October 14th, VECF and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce co-hosted an Executive Briefing on Early Childhood in Virginia at the Jepson Alumni Center at the University of Richmond.  Mike Petters, President & CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries spoke about the value of preschool and why he supports the need for a greater emphasis on preschool education in Virginia.

Read Daily Press article.


"Back to School with Q" Campaign Highlighted in The Roanoke Times

The "Back to School with Q - School Readiness Starts with Quality" Campaign launched by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and Smart Beginnings partners highlights the Virginia Star Quality Initiative as children head back to school or step into a classroom for the first time.

Read The Roanoke Times article.


Governor McAuliffe Announces Creation of Children's Cabinet & Council on Childhood Success

Governor McAuliffe announced the creation of the Children’s Cabinet and the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success.  Improving early childhood care and education is one of five priorities for the Children’s Cabinet.  Additionally, the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success is charged with addressing optimal development of Virginia’s infants, toddlers, and young children.

Read More.



Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker Discusses Investing in People as an Economic Growth Strategy

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President, Jeffrey Lacker, authors an opinion piece in the Washington Post on “Investing in people as an economic growth strategy.”  Lacker relates the economics of human capital to early learning investments and workforce development programs.

Read Washington Post article.



Smart Beginnings NRV Receives AmeriCorps State Grant to Expand Reading Hour

Smart Beginnings NRV for received an AmeriCorps State grant through the Virginia Office of Volunteerism and Community Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service to expand the Reading Hour program.  Funding will provide 10 literacy specialists to promote reading and kindergarten readiness with families and childcare centers in this area.

Read article and view WSLS news clip.


WSLS Daytime Blue Ridge Interview on Smart Beginnings Start with Families

WSLS Daytime Blue Ridge’s interview with Meg Fitzwater (Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke) and Amber Yopp (Roanoke City Libraries) discusses partnering with community libraries to introduce children to the joy of reading. The importance of child development during the first five years is being highlighted during the Smart Beginnings Start with Families Campaign.

View WSLS news interview.


WMRA Public Radio Interview on Smart Beginnings Start with Families

Cynthia Pritchard, CEO, United Way of Greater Augusta and member of the Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Leadership Council and Barbara Hutchinson Director of Community Initiatives, Thomas Jefferson Area United Way and member of Smart Beginnings Thomas Jefferson Area Leadership Council discuss the Smart Beginnings Start with Families Campaign on WMRA Public Radio (Harrisonburg/Charlottesville.)  Listen as they discuss helping to give children the best possible start in life while educating the public on the developmental stages of early life.

Listen to WMRA Radio Interview.




Del. Sam Rasoul and Del. Joseph Yost Roanoke Times Op Ed: Later Success Starts Early

Del. Sam Rasoul and Del. Joseph Yost Op Ed: Later Success Starts Early in the Roanoke Times focuses on celebrating the role of parents and families during the Smart Beginnings Start with Families Campaign.  They highlight the importance of commitment from public and private leaders to support parents and families so that all children can have the opportunity to be ready to succeed in school, work and life.

Read Roanoke Times Op Ed.


CBS6 "Virginia This Morning" Segment Discusses Smart Beginnings Start with Families

VECF President Kathy Glazer and Librarian of Virginia's Dr. Sandra Treadway participated in a segment together on CBS6 "Virginia This Morning" to discuss Smart Beginnings Start with Families and summer reading programs at local libraries.

View Segment.



Smart Beginnings Start with Families Campaign Highlighted in Fredericksburg Parent & Family

The Smart Beginnings Start with Families Campaign was highlighted in the June Issue of Fredericksburg Parent & Family Magazine.  

See page 16.


Del. Chris Peace and Dr. Sandra Treadway RTD Op Ed: Focus on Young Children

Del. Chris Peace and Librarian of Virginia, Dr. Sandra Treadway, teamed up for an Op Ed in the Richmond Times Dispatch: Focus on Young Children. During our Smart Beginnings Start with Families Campaign, this article discusses the importance of parental influence and the long term impact of a child’s experiences during their first five years.

Read RTD article.


Lt. Gov. Northam visits Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania Northside Preschool
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam recently visited Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania's Northside Preschool on his first trip as lieutenant governor to Southwest and Southside Virginia.  Education, community, business and local government leaders discussed successes of the local Smart Beginnings network and challenges the community faces in ensuring all children in the region are prepared to enter kindergarten.

Read Chatham Star Tribune Article.


Smart Beginnings Starts with Families Campaign Targets Pre-Kindergarteners in Hopewell Area
Smart Beginnings Hopewell Prince George is working to distribute information to parents of children under the age of five during the “Smart Beginnings Start with Families” campaign.  Because significant brain development occurs in the early years, Katie Sloan, SB Coordinator, is targeting parents of pre-kindergarteners to help ensure a successful transition to kindergarten. 

Read article.



Smart Beginnings Starts with Families Featured in Urban News Weekly
The "Smart Beginnings Start with Families" Campaign was featured in Urban Views Weekly outlining tips for how parents can be an active participant in their child's early learning.  Bookended by Mother's Day and Father's Day, this initiative recognizes the importance of our collective commitment to support families of young children at all levels of community involvement including: business leaders, elected officials, libraries, healthcare and social service agencies.

Read Urban Views Weekly article.


VECF & Library of VA Team up to Launch "Smart Beginnings Start with Families" Campaign

The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Library of Virginia have partnered to designate May 11- June 15, the time period between Mother's Day and Father's Day, as an opportunity to focus on the unique needs of young children and to recognize that Smart Beginnings Start with Families.

Several resources can be downloaded here.


Smart Beginnings Highlighted in Spring Virginia Child Protection Newsletter

Smart Beginnings is highlighted in the Spring edition of the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter published by James Madison University in partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services.  This edition focuses on children's early childhood development services and is a great resource outlining these services offered in Virginia.  Smart Beginnings is featured on pages 10 and 11 and the work of Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania is highlighted as an example of how Smart Beginnings makes a difference in local communities across the Commonwealth.

Read Spring Edition of the VCPN.


Smart Beginnings Southwest Celebrated WOTYC Stressing Importance of Early Learning

Smart Beginnings Southwest and Smart Beginnings Virginia Highlands celebrated the Week of the Young Child in their region with activities at several local child care centers.  They took the opportunity to stress the importance of early learning in their communities through reading to children and providing professional training programs for teachers.

Read More.



Vonya Alleyne's Roanoke Times Op Ed Discusses Business Case for Early Childhood Development

A Roanoke Times Op/Ed by Cox Communications Vice President, Vonya Alleyne, discusses making the business case for investment in early childhood education and highlights the great work of Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke.

Read the article.


Roanoke's Growing Virginia Star Quality Initiative is Topic on WDBJ7's News

This video from Roanoke’s WDBJ’s news discusses the role of the Virginia Star Quality Initiative in improving quality early education programs in the region.  Thanks to the work of Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke, today there are 23 VSQI star rated child care centers compared to only 4 centers just five years ago.

View video.


Virginia Leaders Gather at School Readiness Seminar

Community leaders from across Virginia came together in Charlottesville for the final session of VECF’s Leader Institute.  For the last eight months, Leader Institute members have been meeting  with national experts to learn more about sustaining local early childhood systems to improve young children’s school readiness.

View WVIR-TV 29 News Clip.


Roanoke Childcare Centers Seek Star Quality Rating

Southwest Virginia and Roanoke in particular, is seeing an increase in the number of childcare programs participating in the voluntary Virginia Star Quality Initiative.  Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke Coordinator, Kris Meyers, is interviewed about how this is improving the quality of programs in the area.

View WSLS10 News Clip.


Virginia's Peninsula Targeted for Nemours Grant to Combat Childhood Obesity

Funding from Nemours will combat childhood obesity through a grant awarded to Virginia, specifically targeting Hampton, Newport News, South Hampton Roads and Richmond - areas where the overall obesity and poverty rates are the highest.  Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula is one of several organizations, led by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, who will collaborate to improve health practices in early childhood centers in these target areas.

Read more.


Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area Early Childhood Development Article Series

Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area is presenting a series of articles on early childhood development in Fredericksburg Parent and Family.  The first in the series was published in the February 2014 edition.  "Impoverished Children Underperform in School, Life" discusses the impact of poverty on child brain development and how parent involvement and quality care can make a difference in school readiness.  The second article, "Growing by Leaps and Bounds," celebrates the growth in the number of star quality rated child care centers in the Rappahannock area, from 4 centers to 40 in six years.

See pages 40 and 41 in Fredericksburg Parent and Family.


New Study: Childhood Obesity Risk Starts Before School Age

Emory University tracked a nationwide sample of more than 7,700 children through grade school in an effort to study childhood obesity.  This new study was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  According to the study, upon kindergarten entry 12% were obese and 15% were overweight.  The study also reported that the greatest increase in obesity occurred between the first and third grades.

Read more about the study.


Virginia Business Community Supports Early Childhood Education at VA Chamber Day

Virginia business leaders gathered at the General Assembly to meet with lawmakers to discuss improving the state's economic competiveness during VA Chamber Day on January 29th.  For the first time, early childhood education is one of the Chamber's statewide goals through its economic plan, "Blueprint Virginia."  Business leaders included high-quality preschool opportunities for Virginia's children in their discussions with legislators.

Read more.


Senator Mark Warner Pays a Visit to Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania

US Senator Mark Warner met with Ann Stratton, Executive Director of Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania and other local community leaders.  Asked for advice about federal priorities for early learning, Ann noted that “the first priority should be holding programs to a high quality standard to ensure children are getting the best education possible.”   She also spoke about the importance of accountability and keeping standards high, making sure children are prepared as possible when they enter kindergarten. 

Read more about Senator Warner's visit.


Washington County Chamber of Commerce Calls for Investment in Early Childhood

A column by Tony Miller, President of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, posted in the Bristol Herald Courier supports investment in early childhood in the Southwest region.  The Virginia Chamber of Commerce recently highlighted Virginia's need to improve access to high quality, early childhood education in its recently released Blueprint Virginia, a business plan for the Commonwealth.

Read Bristol Herald Courier column



Investments in Early Childhood Education Has Long Term Pay Off for VA's Prosperity

An editorial in The Free Lance Star (Fredericksburg) discusses the value of local community investment in Smart Beginnings.  The editorial highlights Smart Beginnings Rappahannock as one example of a community lead coalition with more than 40 public and private agencies, businesses and individuals governed by a board of community leaders committed to ensuring every child entering kindergarten has a chance for success in life.  While early investment results are not instant, the long term benefits positively impact Virginia's future prosperity.

Read editorial in The Free Lance Star.


Southwest VA Support of VA Chamber's Emphasis on Early Education in Blueprint Virginia

Dan Minahan, President of the Wise County Chamber of Commerce, acknowledges the Virginia Chamber of Commerce's support of early childhood education through their newly released economic plan, Blueprint Virginia.  In an article published in The Coalfield Progress, Minahan discusses the importance of this emphasis on Virginia's future prosperity, most specifically in the southwest region of the Commonwealth. Minahan serves on the Smart Beginnings Appalachian Region and Smart Beginnings Southwest Virginia Leadership Councils.

Read Minahan's article in The Coalfield Progress.


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.

Read more.


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.


VECF President interviewed by WINA News Radio on Leader Institute Launch

As the first session of the Smart Beginnings Leader Institute was set to begin, VECF President Kathy Glazer was interviewed by WINA News Radio in Charlottesville.

Click here to listen to the July 29th 1070 WINA News Radio Interview.


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 MedicineThe 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.


American Academy of Pediatrics VA Chapter President Joins VECF Board

Dr. William C. Rees, a pediatrician in Northern Virginia, has joined the VECF Board of Directors.  He serves as the current President of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Learn more about Dr. Rees and his commitment to children's health and well being.


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.

Read More.


Editorial Highlights Early Childhood as Smart Policy, Not Political Sound Bite

Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke mentioned in Roanoke Times editorial.

Read Roanoke Times Editorial


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.

Read More.


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).

Read More.


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.

Read article.


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


Four More Smart Beginnings Coalitions Receive Grant Awards

VECF made additional investments in four Smart Beginnings coalitions in December 2012.  Check presentations included: Smart Beginnings Hopewell Prince George ($112,500), Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area ($186,933), Smart Beginnings New River Valley ($93,750), and Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula ($202,500).

Click here to read Hopewell Prince George Check Presentation article

Click here to read Rappahannock Area Check Presentation article

Click here to view New River Valley Check Presentation video

Click here to view Virginia Peninsula Check Presentation article


VECF Makes Investments Across the Commonwealth

Three Smart Beginnings Coalitions recently received grant awards from VECF in support of their continued early childhood development efforts in their localities.  Check presentations made in November 2012 include: Smart Beginnings Appalachain Region ($90,000), Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley ($75,000), and Smart Beginnings Southside ($70,500).  Additional check presentations will take place in December for Smart Beginnings Hopewell Prince George, Smart Beginnings Rappahannock, and Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula.

Click here to read Appalachian Check Presentation Article

Click here to read Shenandoah Valley Check Presentation Article

Click here to read Southside Check Presentation Article


Kindergarten Readiness
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 ...

Notable Gifts
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 ...