Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!
|Innovation Name||Innovation Type||Innovation Subtype||Features at a Glance||Strategy Summary|
|Project Pathfinders||Workforce||Professional Learning||
Scholarship covers community college coursework, credentials, and (pending eligibility), books and fees
The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation administers the Project Pathfinders scholarship to early childhood professionals in preschool and child care settings. Recipients can use the scholarship toward community college coursework and credentials, and they must set a specific credentialing goal to be eligible for additional funds to cover the costs of books and fees. Priority is given to applicants working with at-risk children (e.g., those eligible for child care subsidies, qualifying for free or reduced lunch, or participating in public preschool programs like Head Start or Virginia Preschool Initiative). Pathfinder awards are applied to a recipient’s account after other financial aid and grants (such as Pell grants) have been applied. Funds for the program first became available in the 2019–20 biennial budget enacted by Governor Ralph Northam and the 2018 General Assembly.Learn More: Virginia Project Pathfinders
Virginia Early Childhood Education. (n.d.). Project Pathfinders.
Virginia Early Childhood Education. (n.d.). Project Pathfinders: Overview of Scholarship Opportunity for the Early Education Workforce.
Virginia Early Childhood Education. (n.d.). Project Pathfinders Archive.
|VA Division of Early Childhood Care and Education||Infrastructure Systems||Administrative + Governance Models||
Created a defined point of accountability and coordination for early education
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 coordinationfor 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).Learn More: Virginia Department of Education
|Teacher Recognition Program / RecognizeB5||Workforce||Bonuses and Supplemental Pay||
$3,000 per educator per year; impact studied through a randomized controlled trial
In 2019, Virginia created the Teacher Recognition Program (now RecognizeB5) to promote the retention and financial well-being of early educators across the state. Through this program, teachers working at least 30 hours per week in public-school or community-based settings serving children birth to age five could receive a payment of $1,500 if they remained in their program for at least 8 months. Educators in all Virginia counties were eligible to participate in the program, but in the state's most populous county, Fairfax County, there were not enough funds to provide a payment to all teachers. This created an opportunity for researchers from the University of Virginia to study the impact of a bonus program on teacher retention and well-being. Using a randomized controlled trial, researchers learned that the bonuses did in fact reduce turnover and increase financial well-being among participating educators. The bonuses cut turnover among educators in child care centers in half, from 30% to 15%, and nearly all educators (98%) reported that the funds helped them meet personal or family needs. The program has since expanded; it provided educators with $3,000 bonuses during the 2022–23 school year.Learn More: Virginia Teacher Recognition Program (RecognizeB5)
|Virginia Longitudinal Data System||Infrastructure Systems||Data Systems||
P-20 Longitudinal Data System
Founded in 2009, Virginia’s Department of Education’s Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS ) is a P-20 longitudinal data systemthat includes pre-K screening data and early childhood program data. The federated system (i.e., a data sharing system that does not consolidate all data in one warehouse) was developed with the Virginia Institute of Technology to merge demographic, program, and individual data while leaving private data inside agencies’ firewalls. The individual data is deidentified with a unique identifier. Although the VLDS has a research agenda and series of papers, data is only available internally for use by agencies, including the Virginia Department of Education, Department of Social Services, and Office of Children’s Services, or approved researchers.
The system is funded through federal Statewide Longitudinal Data System grants.Learn More: Virginia Longitudinal Data System
Demographics Link copied!
8,683,619 Source U.S. Census, 2022
24.4% Source U.S. Census, 2020
75.6% Source U.S. Census, 2020
Number of children age 0-4
490,808 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Poverty levels – children 0-8 below 200% poverty
30% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Median family income among households with children
$102,100.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
3% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2022
Unemployment rate of parents
3% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force
68% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Children living in households with a high housing cost burden
27% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Child population by race and ethnicity Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Race and Ethnicity
- American Indian and Alaska Native (0.5%)
- Asian (7%)
- Black or African American (20%)
- Hispanic or Latino (15%)
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (.5%)
- Two or More Races (6%)
- White, not Hispanic or Latino (52%)
Political Landscape Link copied!
Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!
Public pre-K program name
Virginia Preschool Initiative Source 2023
Public pre-K program name
Early Childhood Foundation Mixed Delivery Program Source: NIEER 2023
Universal or targeted pre-K policy
Targeted Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023
Universal or targeted pre-K policy
Targeted Pre-K Policy (3- and 4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023
Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023
- 3-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (2%)
- 3-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (6%)
- Other/none (92%)
Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023
- 4-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (20%)
- 4-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (5%)
- Other/none (75%)
Workforce Link copied!
2017–2019 Median Hourly Wages Source CSCCE 2018, 2020
- Child care workers
- Preschool teachers
- Preschool or child care center directors
Funding Sources Link copied!
Federal and State Early Childhood Education Funding (in millions) Source First Five Years Fund, 2022
- Head Start and Early Head Start Funding ($141.7)
- CCDBG & Mandatory Funds ($178.1)
- CCDBG State Match ($32.9)
- CCDBG COVID Relief Allocations – CARES, CRRSE, ARPA (CCDF & Stabilization) ($1100)
- State-Funded Pre-K ($89)
- MIECHV ($7.7)
- IDEA Part C ($16.9)
- IDEA Part B, Sec 619 ($14.4)
- TANF Early Learning and Care Expenditures ($45.2)
- Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five ($14.5)
The COVID Funding Cliff
All federal COVID relief allocations, including funding authorized by the CARES, CRRSE, and ARPA bills, must be fully spent by September 2024. An analysis from the Century Foundation shows this loss of funds could cause more than 3 million children to lose access to child care nationwide – including more than 88,000 children in Virginia.