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

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

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 Early Childhood Foundation. (2022). RecognizeB5 Overview.
Bassok, D., Doromal, J., Michie, M., & Wong, V. C. (2021). The Effects of Financial Incentives on Teacher Turnover in Early Childhood Settings: Experimental Evidence from Virginia.
Bassok, D., Shapiro, A., Michie, M., & Fares, I. (2021). The Importance of Financial Supports for Child Care Teachers during the Pandemic: New Findings from Virginia.

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

VCU Performance Management Group. (2021). Virginia Longitudinal Data System Research Agenda.
LiBetti, A. & Fu, R. (2022). A State Scan of Early Learning Assessments and Data Systems. New America.

Download This Table

Demographics Link copied!

Demographics Data Scorecard

State population

8,683,619 Source U.S. Census, 2022

Rural %

24.4% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Urban %

75.6% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Number of children 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

Unemployment rate

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 (.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%)
Year 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019
Governor R R D D D
State House D D D D R
State Senate R R D D R

Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!

Early Childhood Education Programs

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 2023

Universal or Targeted Pre-K Policy

Targeted Pre-K Policy (3- and 4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023

Early Childhood Education Programs (3-Year-Olds) Source 2023


  • Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs (2%)
  • 3-Year-old Children Enrolled in Head Start (6%)
  • Other/None (92%)

Early Childhood Education Programs (4-Year-Olds) Source 2023


  • Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs (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
    $10.27 (2017, adjusted)
    $10.96 (2019)
  • Preschool Teachers
    $16.31 (2017, adjusted)
    $15.91 (2019)
  • Preschool or Child Care Center Directors
    $26.05 (2017, adjusted)
    $27.62 (2019)

Funding Sources Link copied!

Federal and State Early Childhood Education Funding (in Millions) Source First Five Years Fund, 2022

Funding Source

  • 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 ($45.2)
  • Preschool Development Grant Birth ($14.5)