ABCs, the non-profit Alliance for Better Childcare Strategies, creates local solutions and collaborative partnerships to improve the availability and quality of childcare and early education in the New River Valley. Research shows that access to high-quality childcare has the greatest return on investment of any poverty alleviation program, supporting both working families and their children.
This past year ABC has been successful at recruiting new childcare operators to the area. Childcare center capacity will have increased by approximately 200 places in Montgomery County by October 2018 with the Blacksburg Early Childhood Learning Center and will increase again with Honey Tree’s opening of a new Center in Blacksburg in 2019-20. ABCs is also supporting the growth of quality childcare in Pulaski and other regions of the NRV, through expansion of existing facilities and developing new centers and licensed family day homes. As part of this effort, ABCs is also fundraising for scholarships to enable economically deprived preschoolers to access Virginia Quality childcare and early education opportunities.
A professionally trained and valued educational workforce is the key foundation for quality childcare and early education. ABCs supports the childcare workforce through managing a pilot stipend program that rewards professional development at all levels. ABCs is providing scholarships for individuals to earn their Child Development Associate credential. It will also hold it’s second regional professional development symposium for all early educators on September 29. The Igniting Connections Early Education Symposium, to be held at the Inn at Virginia Tech, brings together early educators in childcare centers and public schools for an intensive, hands-on day of professional development. This year’s symposium features Craig and Sharon Ramey, Research Professors at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and VTC School of Medicine who will present their research on the life-changing impact of quality early education. It will also provide an opportunity for early educators to learn more about resources and services available in our community to support their work.