Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!

Innovation Name Innovation Type Innovation Subtype Features at a Glance Strategy Summary
West Virginia’s Universal Pre-K Program Expansion Universal Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds) Targeted Pre-K Policy (3-Year-Olds) More Than 60% of Children Served (4-Year-Olds)

Percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled (as of 2022): 63%
Percentage of 3-year-olds enrolled (as of 2022): 6%
Minimum hours of operation: 25 hours/week; 4 days/week

In 2022, West Virginia introduced its Universal Pre-K Program (UPK). It is now available in all 55 counties for all 4-year-olds, and for some 3-year-olds with special needs. Because of a lack of space for pre-K classrooms, it took about a decade after its founding for the program to attain the facilities necessary to meet the capacity needs of the state’s pre-K-aged children. The state provides a minimum of 25 hours of care per week, 4 days per week. The UPK program is a voluntary, mixed-delivery model provided through a combination of public, private, Head Start, and community-based programs. As of 2022, 63% of West Virginia’s population of 4-year-olds was enrolled in UPK settings statewide. Though the state has made some efforts to expand slots for 3-year-olds, just 6% of this age group is served by public pre-K slots.

Learn More: West Virginia Universal Pre-K


West Virginia Department of Education. (2019). West Virginia Universal Pre-K Guidebook.

National Institute for Early Education Research. (2023). West Virginia.

Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. (2017). West Virginia Universal Pre-K.

West Virginia’s Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist (ACDS) Workforce Apprenticeships

State-funded program

Established in 1989, the West Virginia Registered Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist (ACDS) program holds the distinction of being the longest-running apprenticeship program in early childhood education nationwide. A Registered Apprenticeship Program, ACDS is a partnership among the United States Department of Labor, River Valley Child Development Services, and early childhood programs throughout the state. ACDS involves 300 hours of instructional training and requires apprentices to complete between 3,200 and 4,000 hours of on-the-job training. It covers four semesters and follows a curriculum specifically designed for ACDS, with each semester focusing on a specific age group (infant, toddler, preschool, and school-age). The ACDS Curriculum is taught by certified instructors who meet program-specific criteria, including holding at least a bachelor's degree in early childhood or a related field and possessing direct experience in working with young children. Instructors must renew their teaching credentials for ACDS every two years. Once they have completed the program, participants can apply coursework from the ACDS program toward college credits at most West Virginia community colleges. Employers are obligated to sign an agreement stipulating the raise they will provide to the employees upon completion of the program, although the amount may vary between programs. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources/BCF/Early Care and Education Division is the major source of funding for the program, which is administered by West Virginia Early Childhood Training Connections and Resources, a program of River Valley Child Development Services.

Learn More: West Virginia Apprenticeship


West Virginia Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist. (n.d.).

National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning. (n.d.). Early Childhood Education Apprenticeships.

Download This Table

Demographics Link copied!

Demographics Data Scorecard

State population

1,775,156 Source U.S. Census, 2022

Rural %

55.4% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Urban %

44.6% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Number of children 0–4

89,407 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Poverty levels - children 0—8 below 200% poverty

49% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Median family income among households with children

$68,100.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Unemployment rate

4.1% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2022

Unemployment rate of parents

4% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force

60% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children living in households with a high housing cost burden

22% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Child Population by Race and Ethnicity Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Race and Ethnicity

  • American Indian and Alaska Native (.5%)
  • Asian (1%)
  • Black or African American (4%)
  • Hispanic or Latino (3%)
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (.5%)
  • Two or more races (4%)
  • White, not Hispanic or Latino (88%)
Year 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019
Governor R R R R R
State House R R R R R
State Senate R R R R R

Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!

Early Childhood Education Programs

Public Pre-K Program Name

West Virginia Universal Pre-K Source: NIEER 2023

Universal or Targeted Pre-K Policy

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

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


  • Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs (6%)
  • 3-Year-old Children Enrolled in Head Start (8%)
  • Other/None (86%)

Early Childhood Education Programs (4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2021


  • Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs (63%)
  • 4-Year-old Children Enrolled in Head Start (5%)
  • Other/None (32%)

Workforce Link copied!

2017–2019 Median Hourly Wages Source CSCCE 2018, 2020


  • Child Care Workers
    $9.96 (2017, adjusted)
    $9.95 (2019)
  • Preschool Teachers
    $13.25 (2017, adjusted)
    $12.28 (2019)
  • Preschool or Child Care Center Directors
    $16.83 (2017, adjusted)
    $17.33 (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 ($72.4)
  • CCDBG & Mandatory Funds ($54.4)
  • CCDBG State Match ($1.9)
  • CCDBG COVID Relief Allocations - CARES, CRRSE, ARPA (CCDF & Stabilization) ($350.5)
  • State-Funded Pre-K ($109)
  • MIECHV ($5.9)
  • IDEA Part C ($3.6)
  • IDEA Part B, Sec 619 ($5.4)
  • TANF Early Learning and Care ($21.1)