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Children’s Cabinet Meets to Review Past Year and Outline Future Priorities

On May 14, the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet met for its first full meeting of the year. The Cabinet is chaired by First Lady Pamela Northam and is tasked with improving the quality and access of early childhood education resources across the Commonwealth. Discussion at the meeting focused on a recap of the 2019 General Assembly session and outlining of priorities for the coming year, including the framework for a comprehensive plan for coordination of home visiting services within the early childhood system.

Budget language from the 2019 General Assembly session signed into law by the Governor grants authority to Early Impact Virginia to oversee activities and outcomes, assess needs, and support quality improvement, training, and coordination of Virginia’s home visiting programs through public-private partnerships and collaborations. To that end, a leadership council convened by the Children’s Cabinet proposed a framework for scaling home visiting to sustain and expand upon existing services. This framework was unanimously endorsed by the Children’s Cabinet.

Early childhood home visiting is a service delivery strategy that is carried out in relevant settings in the homes of families with children ages zero to five years and pregnant women with the goals of improving educational and development outcomes for children and families. These services are currently provided via seven unique program models through CHIP of Virginia, Early Head Start, Healthy Families, Healthy Start/Loving Steps, Nurse Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers, and Resource Mothers. In 2018, home visitation programs served 9,875 at-risk families by conducting 82,269 home visits. A directory of the 81 home visiting programs by locality across the Commonwealth can be located here.

According to a 2017 report from the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and MDRC, children from low-income families are more likely than those from higher income families to have poor social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes. Home visiting programs have statistically significant impact in improving in childhood development and school performance, family economic self-sufficiency, long-term maternal health, and other areas. A cost benefit analysis determined that investments in home visits create long-term societal savings by improved outcomes for the families impacted.

The Children’s Cabinet also gave an overview by workgroup of relevant legislative initiatives from the recent legislative session. Successes included recommendations and funding to establish improved training and cooperation between law enforcement and school officials, additional nutritious food delivery and support services, and the creation of a taskforce focused on school-based health service capabilities and potential, among other items. The full 2018-2019 annual report detailing legislation and appropriations can be accessed here.

Established by Executive Order in 2018, the Children’s Cabinet is comprised of four work groups charged with developing recommendations to improve early childhood development and school readiness, nutrition and food security, student safety, and trauma-informed care. It seeks to achieve this task by coordinating efforts and policies across state agencies and non-governmental entities.

VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett

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