Subcommittee studies reforms to Virginia Preschool Initiative

August 5, 2015

In 2015, the General Assembly established a joint subcommittee to study recommendations for reforming the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI), a program meant to serve four-year-olds from families that earn too much money to be eligible for Head Start, but are still struggling financially.

According to budget language, the goals and objectives of the Joint Subcommittee are “to consider increasing accountability, flexibility, innovation, clarification of the state’s role and policy relating to providing a preschool for economically disadvantaged children, and to further develop the facilitation of partnerships between school divisions and private providers for the Virginia Preschool Initiative.”

A report of any preliminary findings and recommendations are to be submitted to the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by November 1, 2015.

At its most recent meeting on July 24, the subcommittee heard testimony from several different school divisions and stakeholder groups. There were at least three chief concerns expressed by school division representatives:

The growing population of children (5 and under) that localities consider to be “at risk,” and in need of a pre-school program in order for these children to be prepared for kindergarten.

The state’s eligibility requirements for participation by pre-school age children in VPI is overly rigid.

Though the state will pay a share (based on local LCI)  for each eligible child’s participation in VPI, there are many instances when localities have difficulties making the local match, even if the local match is capped (for wealthiest communities) at 50 percent.

At the most recent subcommittee meeting held on July 24, the subcommittee members agreed that another year would be needed to complete the subcommittee’s work. The Subcommittee is co-chaired by Delegate R. Steven Landes and Senator Emmitt Hanger. Other members on the Committee are Delegates Kirk Cox, James Massie, Thomas “TAG” Greason, and Luke Torian. The Senators are Walter Scosch, Janet Howell, Frank Ruff, and Ryan McDougle.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

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