VA Division of Early Childhood Care and Education

Infrastructure to Support Early Childhood Systems

  • Administrative + Governance Models


In July 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed SB578/HB1012 to give Virginia’s Board of Education (BOE) and Department of Education (DOE) joint responsibility for overseeing and administering early care and education across the state. This created a defined point of accountability and coordinationCoordination Model: In most states, programmatic authority for early childhood is spread across multiple agencies that are expected to collaborate with each other, often through formal structures. This is the most prevalent approach to early childhood governance and may occur in many ways such as through formal agreements across agencies, a governor’s coordinating office, and/or a children’s cabinet. for early education programs effective July 1, 2021. Under this arrangement, the Department of Education became responsible for child care licensing and administration of the state’s child care subsidy program.

Moving all early childhood programming to one agency improves efficiency and allows for better alignment of eligibility, monitoring, and quality improvement activities (Bipartisan Policy Center, 2023).

Virginia Department of Education (2020). Child Care and Development Fund Plan for Virginia.
Early Childhood Care & Education | Virginia Department of Education 
Bipartisan Policy Center (2023). Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education Systems

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Strong infrastructure and systems – including governance structures and data systems – are key aspects of high-quality early education and care. And research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality early education within a mixed-delivery system; strengthening infrastructure and systems is one important way states and cities can take action to address these needs and accomplish these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) that connect to the need for more robust infrastructure and systems, including data systems:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • We have learned a great deal from this groundbreaking, large-scale study. Nevertheless, there is still much to learn about what children, families, and educators need, and about what “works” – for whom and under what circumstances – across all the diverse settings where young children learn and grow.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Virginia

Context matters. Visit the Virginia profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Virginia Profile Here
  • The state population is 8,683,619
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 68%
  • The rural percentage is 24.4%