Governor Northam Establishes Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness

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Governor Northam Establishes Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness
Directs state agencies to develop plan to expand access to early education for all at-risk three- and four-year-olds by 2025
 
NORFOLK—Governor Ralph Northam on 7/24/2019 signed Executive Directive Four, which establishes the Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness. The Team will be responsible for making recommendations that unify and strengthen Virginia’s early childhood system, including developing a plan to ensure all at-risk three-year-olds and four-year-olds in Virginia have access to a publicly-subsidized care and education option by 2025.
 
“In recent years, bipartisan work has produced positive results, yet 40 percent of Virginia children are arriving in kindergarten unprepared for success in school,” said Governor Northam. “Providing a quality publicly-subsidized care and education option for all underserved three- and four-year-olds is the best investment we can make in our workforce of the future.”
 
The Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness will also develop recommendations to maximize use of current early childhood education funding and create a uniform quality measurement and improvement system for all programs receiving public dollars. The Team will submit a written report to the Governor by September 30, 2019.
 
“Currently, over 70 percent of economically disadvantaged families with three-year-olds lack access to affordable, quality early care and education,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “We envision a Virginia where working families are able to pursue their dreams because they have safe, dependable, and quality care for their children.”
 
The Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness will be co-chaired by the Chief School Readiness Officer and the Commissioner of Virginia Department of Social Services. The Team will be comprised of staff from executive branch agencies, including the Department of Education, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Planning and Budget.
 
“Inequity in early education begins in the first critical years before a child reaches kindergarten, when about 90 percent of the brain is developed,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “This is a major step toward ensuring all children have the support they need to succeed in school and life, no matter who they are or where they live.”
 
“Eliminating child care deserts and adding more options for quality early childhood care and education are critical components to supporting the health of the whole family,” added Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD. “We look forward to making a major impact on the future health and well-being of tomorrow’s leaders.”
 
Full text of Executive Directive Four can be found here.
 
This directive also kicks off four regional stakeholder listening sessions headlined by the Commissioner of Virginia Department of Social Services and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dates and locations for listening sessions can be found below.
 
Monday, August 12
9:00 AM
Dominion Enterprises
150 Granby Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23510
 
Wednesday, August 14
10:00 AM
ACCA Child Development Center
7200 Columbia Pike, Suite 2
Annandale, Virginia 22003 
 
Thursday, August 15
10:00 AM
Salem High School
400 Spartan Drive
Salem, Virginia 24153
 
Friday, August 16
2:00 PM
Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Department of Social Services
9501 Lucy Corr Circle
Chesterfield, Virginia 23832

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Early Childhood