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Early Care and Education

Brain researchers, economists and business leaders all agree – investments in early care and education provide the biggest return on investment. Over the last ten years, scientists have discovered how early experiences shape the architecture of the brain before a child turns 5 years old. Economists have found a long-term return on investment for children who participate in high quality early care and education. And business leaders have stepped up to the plate to advocate for their future workforce.

Despite this broad base of support, too many children in Virginia do not have the high quality early care and education experiences to prepare them for success in school. Parents, caregivers, professionals and schools all have a role to play in shaping our children’s school readiness. Yet many of the systems to support young children and families are splintered and can not provide enough opportunities for all children who could benefit. Voices advocates for more opportunities.

Where Virginia Stands

  • Only 45% of low-income children in Virginia attend preschool compared to 65% of their higher income peers.
  • We only have enough parent educators to reach about 10% of the at-risk pregnant women and families across the state.
  • Average costs for child care are more than college tuition.

How Voices Works

Our early childhood agenda takes a comprehensive approach, recognizing that young children need strong families, supportive communities and quality caregivers. We build this agenda by serving as a neutral convener for many of the stakeholders in early childhood to share their needs and determine the highest priorities. Each year, Voices’ Policy Network puts forth a Unified Early Childhood Policy Agenda outlining these shared priorities.

In recent years we have advocated for:

  • The restoration of state funding cuts to home visiting programs;
  • Significant new sate investment in early intervention services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays;
  • Improvements to the child care system, including the first safety reforms in 20 years;
  • Expanding participation in the Virginia Preschool Initiative for at-risk four year-olds; and
  • Access to high-quality, affordable child care.

We also work on these issues at the LOCAL level, supporting regional networks in Northern Virginia and Greater Richmond to connect to state and federal policy opportunities and to mobilize for action at the local level.


The need for Virginia to invest in early care in education was first laid out in the 2004 report, No Time to Waste.

Voices has outlined the current opportunities to build on this framework in Building Our Future: The State of Virginia’s Early Childhood System. For highlights and a quick review of the report, please see the executive summary.

Read more about the Opportunity Gaps in Early Care and Education (December 2012).

Early Childhood Landscape

Unified Early Childhood Agenda 2016
Unified Early Childhood Agenda 2015
Unified Early Childhood Agenda 2014
Unified Early Childhood Agenda 2013
Unified Early Childhood Agenda 2012

For more information contact Emily Griffey at [email protected] or (804) 649-0184.