• Research tells us that investing in early learning benefits children + families + society.
  • The availability of early education programs attracts homebuyers and increases property values by $13 for every dollar invested.
  • A lack of childcare costs businesses $4.4b annually due to employee absences.
  • Quality early education reduces grade retention and saves school divisions money in the long run.
  • Children who attend higher quality programs enter kindergarten ready to learn, live healthier lives, are LESS likely to repeat a grade, and are MORE likely to graduate from high school.
  • A focus on birth to five lowers rates of chronic disease and lowers health care costs.
  • Children who participate in high quality programs show long-term health benefits (reduced depression, rates of smoking, obesity and substance abuse).
  • The annual cost of infant, toddler and preschool programs ranges between $10-16k. Those programs may not be high quality.
  • Children from low-income families often have access to lower quality programs.

Economics in VA

  • $13,728 is the annual cost of center-based care.
  • 47% of residents live in childcare deserts.


  • Children are born learning.
  • Children who enter kindergarten behind their peers are more likely to remain behind in their education, careers and lives.
  • The foundation for reading ability is built in the first five years.
  • High quality early learning increases high school graduation rates by 14%.
  • When children face adversity, they are at far greater risk for cognitive, language, social & emotional delays.

The Politics

Virginia Voters are concerned that children are entering kindergarten not ready.  The VKRP data resonates with Republicans, Democrats and Independents.  2021 polling data tells us that voters:

  • Believe VKRP data.  Two thirds say we need to do more to help children begin kindergarten with the skills they need.
  • Say terms like early learning and early education resonate with them.  Terms like child care, day care, early childhood and universal access DO NOT.
  • Support new dollars for early learning up to third grade to help our children recover, prepare and thrive in school.
  • Favor using “sin taxes” from casino gaming, legalized marijuana and an increase in tobacco tax as additional revenue.
  • Support more funding in the classroom to ensure access to high quality curriculum, professional development and other resources to help teachers.
  • Agree that more tools for parents and teachers are needed to improve reading and math and help our children recover from the pandemic.

COVID-19 Impact on Early Learners & Programs

  • More children started kindergarten without key readiness skills (VKRP, Spring 2021).
  • More black and brown children entered kindergarten without the readiness skills they need to be successful academically and socially (VKRP, Spring 2021).
  • Social skills and self-regulation skills are kindergarten teachers’ biggest concerns.
  • More kindergarteners and first graders started the school year at high risk for literacy failure compared to last year.
  • Black, brown, English learners (EL) and children from economically disadvantaged homes were at greater risk of reading failure (PALS, Fall 2019 to Spring 2021).
  • The increased number of kindergarten and first grade students starting the school year at high risk for reading failure is a threat to third grade reading outcomes down the road (UVA COVID-19 Research Brief, Fall 2020).
  • 52% of Virginia’s kindergarteners ended the school year still needing to build foundational skills in Literacy, Math, Self-Regulation, and/or Social Skills (Understanding Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Skills – Spring 2021).

Invest in our Children!