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Commonwealth's Counties

Early childhood education legislation fails to graduate

As previously reported, one area of focus for Governor Northam’s Children’s Cabinet is early childhood development and school readiness. Two bills this session sought to make changes aimed at streamlining Early Childhood services, but have been left in committee.

HB 2458 (Landes) directs the Virginia Board of Education to establish and administer a statewide unified public-private system for early childhood care and education to ensure school readiness. The bill mandates that this system use both state-level authority and regional-level public-private partnership assets and establishes exemptions from licensure. The bill also creates the Early Childhood Innovation Fund to facilitate regional public-private collaboration and to field test strategies and practices that support a system of comprehensive early childhood care and education services in order to deliver measurable school readiness outcomes and meet regional workforce support needs. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2021 and directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create a plan accordingly.  The bill was reported by the House Education Committee on a 20-1 vote and referred to House Appropriations where it was left before crossover.

SB 1095 (Howell) was significantly amended and parred down from its original scope, which was similar to HB 2458, to instead direct the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Commissioner of Social services to convene a stakeholder group that shall investigate the development of a unified early childhood education system that incorporates private and public options. The bill passed the Senate and was reported on a vote of 21-1 by House Education, but also referred to House Appropriations where it was left in committee.

VACo Contact: Jeremy Bennett

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