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Early Childhood Education

Framing the Issue

During the first five years of life, a child’s brain is developing rapidly. Enriching activities and healthy relationships are critical to success in school and later in life. Unfortunately, many families, especially those with limited resources, are faced with a variety of barriers that may negatively impact the development of their young children during the most formative years.


Quality early childhood services can reduce socio-economic and health disparities among children of different backgrounds, while helping to avoid costly interventions later in life. The Community Foundation and its donors are invested in regional system coordination led by Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond, as well as timely assistance and support of families that will promote a child's healthy development. Working to ensure that every child has a great start in life will not only have a lifelong impact on the child, but also on the child's family and the community.

Key Areas for Investment

Advocacy efforts to establish universal childcare and Pre-K by the year 2030

  • Nonprofit advocacy organizations are working closely at the state and regional levels to attract and direct funding toward establishing universal childcare and Pre-K.
  • In Virginia, state laws have recently been passed to allow for much greater financial resources to be focused on developing this program.
  • Key efforts include providing financial support to the substantial number of in-home childcare providers in the City, who are often under-resourced and poorly paid, but who provide vital care to these young children so parents can work.

Home visitation and coaching for children and parents both before and after the birth of their child

  • These interventions for ages 0-2 years old affect health, socialization, and preparation for schooling.

Supports and interventions for literacy competency by the 3rd grade

  • Failing to address childhood literacy now has future impacts on adult literacy, which creates further challenges when these adults apply for jobs, attempt to navigate governmental support programs, or pursue affordable housing. 
  • This focus includes providing reading resources to parents as well as supplementing what is available during the school day and through after-school programs. 

Read More

Boldly Reimagining Virginia's Early Childhood Education System

Early Childhood Development & Education Impact Report [Summer 2019]