Charlottesville event focuses on importance of early childhood services

People in Charlottesville are learning about the importance investing in early childhood services.

Charlottesville event focuses on importance of early childhood services
Panel discussion at the Jefferson School. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. (WVIR) - People in Charlottesville are learning about the importance investing in early childhood services. It’s all part of Early Childhood Policy Convening and Advocacy Training being held at the Jefferson School’s African American Heritage Center Tuesday, December 3.

The event was all about bringing more clarity to early-childhood programs, and making sure people understand what some of those priorities are at both a state and local level.

“Well you can speak to your elected officials: tell the story about how early childhood education has made a difference in your child’s life, how finding an affordable, high-quality childcare has helped prepare your kid for school,” Emily Griffy with Voices for Virginia’s Children said.

Tuesday’s event kicked off with a panel discussion, which was attended by representatives from the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, the Legal Aid Justice Center, and Charlottesville City Schools (CCS).

City schools are working on a potential reorganization that would allow for the creation of a preschool center at an existing school building, according to CCS Superintendent Rosa Atkins. That kind of center would help families and caretakers make sure students are developing emotionally and socially, as well as academically.

Tuesday’s event also included an advocacy training session, where attendees learned how to better advocate at the local and state level for more programs to benefit children.

12/03/2019 Release from the Early Childhood Funders Network:

Charlottesville, Virginia, December 3, 2019 – The Early Childhood Funders Network, the Early Education Task Force, and the United Way of Greater Charlottesville will co-host an Early Childhood Policy Convening and Advocacy Training today at the African American Heritage Center.

More than 1 million neural connections are formed every second in the first few years of life, around 90% of the brain’s physical volume develops as early as age 5, and children who face greater adversity, like living in poverty, are at far greater risk for delays in their cognitive, language, or emotional development.

While progress is being made under the Northam administration, Virginia ranks 33rd in Early Childhood Education investment dollars. Mike Chinn, a co-chair of the Early Education Task Force, states: “Charlottesville leaders, experts, and advocates have come together to highlight the importance of creating pathways that will foster a strong, equitable future for all of Central Virginia’s children. We hope this convening adds additional thrust to our community’s efforts to invest fully in improving access and quality for our early childhood ecosystem.”

Today’s conversation is an opportunity for the community to hear from local and state early childhood experts about the importance of investing early. Participants will learn about priorities and legislative action moving forward at the state and local levels.

The panel discussion will run from 10:00 am to 11:30 am and will include Dr. Rosa Atkins, Superintendent of Charlottesville City School, Dr. Amanda Williford of UVa’s Curry School of Education, and Emily Griffey, Policy Director of Voices for Virginia’s Children.

An optional Advocacy Training, co-led by Emily Griffey of Voices for VA’s Children and Harold Folley, Jr. with the Legal Aid Justice Center, will be offered after the panel discussion from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm. Griffey, Voices Policy Director, states: “Young children don’t get to vote or have a voice in the legislature and parents and raptly childhood educators are very busy people. That’s why it is so important advocates are willing to speak up for the best interests of children. We can speak up to ensure all young children have the opportunity to attend quality preschool.”

In addition to the Early Childhood Funders Network, the United Way of Greater Charlottesville, and the Early Education Task Force, the following organizations have partnered with the co-hosts to help make the event a success: Cville Tomorrow | YMCA | Childhealth Partnership | ReadyKids | City of Promise | Legal Aid | Piedmont Housing Alliance | Chamber of Commerce | UVA Curry School of Education.

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