FILE - Early childhood education preschool

The Commonwealth of Virginia used a $9.9 million federal grant to produce a plan to unify and strengthen early childhood education and identify gaps that need to be closed.

The grant helped produce two documents, the Needs Assessment and the Strategic Plan. The Needs Assessment focuses on finding gaps and the Strategic Plan details the state’s goals and priorities for strengthening and unifying the education system for children up to five years old.

The strategic plan provides a vision for early childhood education to ensure that these children will have access to quality, safe and affordable care and education. It assumes that care and education should also be family focused, strategic and innovative.

“When children have access to quality, stable, affordable care during their earliest years, they build the foundation they need for future success, not only for themselves, but for their communities,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release. “These collaborative efforts will drive our continued work to strengthen the Commonwealth’s early childhood system and improve the health, safety, and academic readiness of all of our youngest learners.

According to the news release, the state developed the documents with the help of lawmakers, families and other stakeholders. The language is available online and the governor encourages feedback.

“This draft plan builds on years of work with our partners in the General Assembly, the business community, state agencies, families, and local public and private early education providers,” Gary Thomson, the chairman of the School Readiness Committee, said in the news release. “We can all agree that increasing access to quality early care and education is one of the best investments we can make in the workforce of the future.”

The grant will also fund initiatives to help children in 11 communities be better prepared before going to preschool. The commonwealth will also increase spending for some early childhood educators by $1,500.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.