RICHMOND — On Tuesday, Aug. 17, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that enrollment in Virginia’s two largest state-funded early childhood education (preschool) programs is expected to reach historic levels for the 2021-2022 school year.
For the upcoming school year, the Commonwealth has allotted $151.6 million for the Virginia Preschool Initiative and Mixed Delivery for 2022 fiscal year; a $60.9 million increase from the amount allotted for the 2021 fiscal year.
These federally funded programs are now more accessible than ever to Virginia families. Those earning up to 85 percent of the Commonwealth’s median income who have young children are currently eligible for the state’s Child Care Subsidy Program. According to the Aug. 17 announcement, this is attributed to HB 2206, which was sponsored by State Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn. Last month, Gov. Northam extended this program for another month.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation expect more than 25,000 three and four-year-old students to be enrolled this fall in their respective Virginia Preschool Initiative and Mixed Delivery Preschool Grant programs. The VDOE and Foundation attribute this increase partially to employers reopening and students being able to safely return to in-person learning.
The programs currently serve 20,000 children, which the announcement stated is 94 percent of the pre-pandemic total of students enrolled. Federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs are funded to serve 14,463 students for the 2021-2022 school year. The goal is to have all sites to have full in-person enrollment by Jan. 1, 2022.
“Access to high quality early learning is critical for children’s development, and the Commonwealth’s investment in early childhood education is a major reason Virginia was named the best state to do business for the second year in a row,” said Gov. Northam in the announcement.
To learn more about Virginia’s preschool initiatives, click here.