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Virginia Early Childhood Foundation launches new statewide Ready Regions network 

MAY 10, 2022 — To address vital opportunities for growing and strengthening Virginia’s early child care system, the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation has launched Ready Regions – a transformative network designed to enhance the coordination and accountability of early education programs across the Commonwealth.  

An evolution of the Smart Beginnings network, this new system is made up of nine Ready Regions that span the entire state. Each Ready Region is coordinated by a lead organization that collaborates with parents, school divisions, early childhood care and education programs, business and other stakeholder organizations to coordinate and integrate critical services and resources for families with young children. Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond now leads Ready Region Central, which encompasses the cities of Colonial Heights, Emporia, Hopewell, Petersburg, and Richmond, as well as the counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan, Prince George, Surry, and Sussex. 

The Ready Regions Network is made up of nine regions that span the state of Virginia. Greater Richmond is located in Ready Region Central, illustrated in green in the graphic above.  

“A large part of what we do is convene nonprofits and child care providers to explore the issues they face and bring the right people together to find potential solutions,” said Katherine Busser, Immediate Past Board Chair for Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond. “Equitable access to high-quality early care for all families has long been one of those issues, and the Ready Regions network creates the infrastructure necessary to address that issue.”  

The task of ensuring quality preschool and early care experiences used to be spread across multiple organizations with variations in their approaches, and participation in assessment programs was voluntary. A priority for Ready Regions will be overseeing a new uniform measurement and improvement system used in all publicly funded early childhood classrooms in Virginia by 2023. This new system will provide a uniform quality assessment and supply educators with the tools and supports they need to provide the best experience for their students to eventually increase school readiness. 

About 90% of a child’s brain growth occurs before age five, which is why quality early care experiences are critical to success in school and later in life.  

“You’ve probably seen news stories about the fracturing of the child care system and how important early care and education is to a strong economy and a strong community,” said Amanda Murphy, Senior Director at Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond. “We want to make sure all children have good experiences in those critical zero-to-five years, and this new program will help ensure that all children are getting a quality preschool experience.”  

Over the last six years, the support, leadership and fiscal sponsorship of ChamberRVA has enabled Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond to grow into the powerhouse it is today. The Community Foundation is excited for the opportunity to continue and advance this important investment in the early care sector by serving as the new fiscal sponsor for Ready Region Central, further embracing Early Childhood Development & Education as a key area for investment.  

To learn more about how you can support early care in Greater Richmond, contact Audrey Trussell, Vice President of Community Impact, at  

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