Virginia Early Childhood Foundation gives Charlottesville area grant to improve education

Virginia Early Childhood Foundation gives Charlottesville area grant to improve education

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - At a time when childcare is a major concern for many families, a grant for a Charlottesville group aims to make a difference.

The start of your child’s educational career will leave you with some tough decisions that are only made harder by COVID. Do you opt for in-person or virtual learning? What about public or private programs? Now, that organization has the support it needs to help families make those calls.

“We’re very excited that this will be the first time our community has had the opportunity to provide this one-stop-shop,” said Barbara Hutchinson, the President of Community Impact at United Way Charlottesville.

She says a new grant-funded website will help preschoolers and their families with a common application for public preschools and will help families with their specific needs.

“We hope to embellish the website with additional resources and create a methodology where a parent comes to the website but then learns all about the types of resources that are in the community to meet their needs,” Hutchinson said.

She also talked about how providing these resources online can create equity.

“When we look at disparities, or barriers, to success and early education, providing those types of alternatives is very important and that’s exactly what this website will help with,” she said.

Equity is the goal of this $100,000 grant from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and it’s especially important due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are disparities and, in fact, the disparities existed prior to COVID,” Hutchinson said. "Since COVID they’ve just grown.”

United Way is working on other childhood school readiness initiatives like providing PPE and sanitation for shared books and toys.

They know the harms if children get behind.

“Whether it’s due to economics, whether it’s due to systemic racism, or whatever, they’re going to arrive at kindergarten not ready to learn,” Hutchinson said. "Then they’re going to hit third grade and they won’t be able to read to learn.”

The goal is to have the website ready to launch by mid-January or early-February.

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