NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — This fall, a record number of children are expected to enroll in pre-kindergarten education programs in Virginia.
As 10 On Your Side reported earlier this month, Gov. Ralph Northam announced the commonwealth’s increased investment in early childhood education is paying off in enrollment numbers.
“Access to early care and education is critical to getting children ready for those early years,” said Dr. Jane Glasgow, executive director of Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Minus 9 to 5 initiative. “We know that children who enter kindergarten behind statistically stay behind. They often are struggling the whole way through.”
This fall, dozens more children in Hampton Roads will be able to access early education, thanks to a $1.24 million grant awarded to Minus 9 to 5.
The money is coming from Virginia’s Mixed Delivery Preschool Grant Program and will pay for 102 children in the region to attend private or nonprofit preschool and pre-kindergarten programs for the 2021-2022 school year.
Glasgow said the mixed delivery system has been successful in other regions because publicly funded programs like Head Start and the Virginia Preschool Initiative fill up so quickly.
“This is a way we can increase access and allow parents to have some choice, so it’s really just a part of the overall PreK system,” she said. “The hope is that this funding will become more secure in the future and that expansion will be possible in our region.”
There are still about 20 spots left for Hampton Roads families who qualify. For more information, visit Minus 9 to 5’s website.