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Commission on Early Childhood Care and Education Meets to Discuss Priorities and Looming Fiscal Cliff

On September 28, the Commission on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) met to develop a shared understanding of the relationship between Virginia’s priorities and must-haves, systems costs, and anticipated return on investment. This included a review of priorities/must-haves that have emerged in July and August meetings, return from Virginia’s investment in ECCE, and potential service gaps and anticipated costs to sustain Virginia’s best in class system in the coming years. VACo sent a letter to the Commission highlighting the association’s priorities and supporting the work of the Commission.

Of note, funding for the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) and Mixed Delivery will decline by several hundred million dollars in FY 2025 unless action is taken to bolster these programs as federal funding for these programs expires. This is likely to half the number of children served by these programs by approximately 35,000 and create job disruption for the parents of said children. This fiscal cliff is demonstrated here. Virginia invested $309 million more towards ECCE in SFY 2023 compared to SFY 2019, which resulted in 11,151 more children under age 5 receiving affordable, high-quality ECCE through CCSP and Mixed Delivery. This is estimated to have generated a return of at least $364.3 million in increased family earnings and disposable income, of which, at least $30.4 million will go directly back to the state as tax revenue.

As previously reported, this Commission is comprised of Virginia legislators and representatives of business, economic development, local government, school divisions, parents and early care and education programs. The Commission is charged with providing recommendations for and tracking progress on the financing of Virginia’s comprehensive birth-to-five early childhood care and education system. The inaugural meeting was comprised of introductions and an overview of Virginia’s ECCE ecosystem as well as discussion on priority issues.

The Commission was established by legislation supported by VACo from the 2023 General Assembly session. Given the role of county government in supporting many early childhood programs and initiatives, VACo successfully advocated for a permanent local government representative seat on the Commission as ECCE has enormous impact to the health and well-being of counties. This seat is currently held by Belinda Astrop, Chair of the Greensville County Board of Supervisors.

VACo supports efforts to increase at-risk children’s access to high-quality, enriching learning environments, including more resources and flexibility for localities participating in programs like the Virginia Preschool Initiative and Head Start, as well as additional federal and state funding for programs such as Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to support increased demand for childcare services. VACo also supports local flexibility to administer or expand support services for childcare.

The Commission next meets at a date to be determined, but most likely in December. VACo will continue to engage and report on this issue. Information and presentations from the September 28 meeting can be found here.

VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett

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