Studies show that educational achievement gaps already exist at Kindergarten entry.  Children from low-income families are more likely to start school with limited language skills, health problems and social and emotional problems that interfere with learning.  The larger the gap at school entry, the harder it is to close.

Language proficiency is a key predictor of school success. Early literacy skills (size of vocabulary, recognizing letters, understanding letter and sound relationships) at kindergarten entry are good predictors of children's reading abilities throughout their educational careers. Language and literacy skills enable children to develop cognitive skills and knowledge and to interact effectively with peers and adults.



Highlights of the State
Governor Warner's Foundations for a Lifetime Initiative:
Governor Mark Warner launched in the fall of 2003 "Foundations for a Lifetime", an early childhood initiative with four major components: early care and school readiness; family support; maternal and child health and nutrition, and early childhood infrastructure and coordination.  Included in this initiative were projects to raise current child care center standards and family day-care home standards; raise child care subsidy rates; develop a tiered reimbursement system to reward high-quality care; establish a coordinated system for the professional development of child care providers; enhance support for home visitor programs; develop a web-based and a 24 hour phone line for information about early childhood development; develop and distribute New Parent Tool Kits; improve child nutrition and immunization rates and work to prevent child asthma and obesity; enhance newborn screenings; and improve the cordination of early childhood programs in Virginia.  Governor Warner is planning a Governor's Summit on Early Care and Education for May 2005 with events for the corporate community as well as the early care and education community.

Maternal Child Health Block Grant-Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Grant:
The Virginia Department of Health received a grant for developing an early childhood comprehensive system--the Virginia Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (VECCS) Planning Grant.  Four Committees (Early Care and Education; Family Education and Famly Support; Medical Homes; and Social/Emotional and Mental Health) have been meeting to work on a state system for early childhood programs.  The work of the four committees will be meshed into a comprehensive state plan in April 2005.

School Readiness Indicators State Team:
The School Readiness Indicators State Team, chaired by the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, has met for two years to develop indicators of school readiness in Virginia.  Governor Warner released No Time to Waste: Indicators of School Readiness 2004 Data Book in March of 2004.  The State Team developed a policy agenda for 2004/2005 based on findings from the indicators.  Prenatal care/low birth weight babies and coordination of Head Start and At-risk  four-year old programs were selected as priority policy areas.  There has been significant work in both areas in the past few months..

Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI):
The Virginia Preschool Initiative served 5, 886 at-risk 4 year olds in the 2003-2004 school year.  State funds are allocated to fund services to 60% of Virginia's at-risk 4 year olds not being served by Title I or Head Start.  The 2004 Virginia General Assembly appropriated $6.7 million in new funding over the next biennium for VPI, to cover all at-risk four-year olds not served by Head Start.

The TEACH-VA program received state funding for the first time in 2003.  TEACH-VA, now using both public and private funds, has provided scholarships to over 300 child care providers attending community college programs in early care and development.

Virginia Child Care Resource and Referral Network:
The Virginia Child Care Resource and Referral Network (VACCRRN) received state funding for the first time in 2003.  VACCRRN now has an Executive Director to help coordinate the offices located throughout the Commonwealth.

Virginia's SCHIP Program (Children's Health Insurance for Low-Income Families):
Under Governor Warner's Leadership, significant improvements have been made to Virginia's health insurance programs for children, resulting in approximately 90% of estimated eligible children being enrolled.  Policy improvements have included streamlining the state's SCHIP and Medicaid programs into one program called FAMIS, greatly enhancing local outreach efforts, simplifying the enrollment process, and expanding mental health benefits to enrollees.

Virginia's Better Baby Care Initiative:
Virginia participated in the National Infant and Toddler Child Care Initiative and held meetings of a Better Baby Care Coalition.  The Virginia Department of Social Services is participating in an Infant and Toddler Care grant and has combined this project with the Virginia Department of Health's VECCS initiative (see description above)

Policy Issues
The Virginia State Team developed policy goals to 1) increase access to prenatal care and lower the number of low birthweight babies and to 2) better coordinate Head Start and the Virginia Preschool Initiative.

Statutory Children's Cabinet
Virginia has no statutory children's group.

Virginia School Readiness Report
Access No Time to Waste, Indicators of School Readiness by clicking here.  Errata information can be obtained by visiting,

Access Indicators of School Readiness; Supplement by clicking here.



© 2005, School Readiness Indicators Initiative
One Union Station Providence, RI 02903 401.351.9400 fax 401.351.1758
If you have a question or comment about this website, please contact us.

The School Readiness Indicators Initiative is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
The 17-state initiative is managed by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT