Federal grant money for early childhood education

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Virginia Department of Education is getting millions of dollars in federal grant funding for early childhood education.

First Lady Pamela Northam announced the VDOE, in partnership with the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the University of Virginia, has received the $9.9 million competitive Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five, or PDG B-5, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families.

According to a release, the funding will be used to support statewide initiatives that bolster the early childhood system in Virginia, including producing a statewide needs assessment and strategic plan, aligning early learning standards, and developing kindergarten-readiness tools for teachers and families.

“Every child in Virginia is capable of entering kindergarten ready with the skills they need to succeed in school, regardless of who they are or where they live,” said Northam. “This grant will enable our innovative local leaders and teachers to build skills, engage families in their children's learning and development, and measure progress all while being financially rewarded for their efforts.”

Of the grant funding, almost $4 million will directly support early childhood educators, supporting initiatives to unify child care, Head Start and pre-K at the local level in ten communities across the Commonwealth.

Funding will also be used to accelerate the implementation of higher standards and reduce turnover, leader and teachers in the communities that agree to strengthen standards, participate in training programs, and improve quality.

In those ten communities, the money will allow the state to evaluate hundreds of publicly-funded infant, toddler and pre-K classrooms to better understand the quality landscape, including family day homes, child care, Head Start and schools.

The communities will also conduct focus groups and surveys to gather insights from the families of the Commonwealth's youngest learners.

The release says the evaluations will help determine which improvement supports are the most helpful and how to best inform families about early childhood options.

The best practices and models developed can then be scaled to statewide levels and sustained by using existing funds more effectively.

VDOE will be the lead agency in the project to implement the efforts made possible by this grant funding, with VECF focusing on managing the needs assessment, strategic plans and community pilots.

Partners at UVA will use their expertise by supporting community efforts to evaluate classrooms, improve quality, engage families and educators, and assess the impact of the work.

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